Barite or barytes (barium sulphate)

Barite or Baryte (BaSO>4) is a natural mineral consisting of barium and sulfate. The mineral is abundant around the world but is rarely in economically high concentrations. Scotland has two known economical sources; Foss Mine and Duntanlich mine.

The mineral characteristics of Barite are:

  • Hardness 3-3.5 (Mohs)
  • Pure Barite Density 4.48t/m3
  • Duntanlich Barite Density range 4.15 to 4.3t/m3
  • Colour- Light Grey

Uses of Barite

77% of barite is used in the oil and gas industry as a weighting agent in exploration drilling.

Barite can also be used in:

  • heavy aggregate for multiple uses within the construction industry.
  • radiation-shielding concrete e.g. for X-ray rooms
  • fillers in paint and plastics
  • sound reduction in engine compartments
  • friction products for automobiles and trucks
  • glass ceramics
  • medical applications e.g. a barium meal before a CAT scan.
  • oil and gas industry.

Barite extracted from Foss mine.

Security of supply

Barite or barytes (barium sulphate) is a mineral largely used (77% of it) as a weighting agent for drilling fluids in oil and gas exploration. It is an essential component and there is no substitute that has all of its properties.

Current policy direction is towards self-sufficiency and sustainability in energy and strategic minerals and concerns have been raised about UK self-sufficiency in both these areas.

The UK Minerals Forum has commented: “Internationally the UK is facing increasing global competition for raw materials. The UK is not self-sufficient in a number of key sectors, particularly metals and increasingly energy – oil, gas and coal.”1

Increases in world demand have put pressure on sources of barite in Morocco, India and China.

Concerns over a critical dependency by the UK on these foreign sources justifies the investment required for the delivery of the mine at Duntanlich.

The barite deposit at Duntanlich is unique in the UK and identified as being “world class with considerable economic importance and geological significance.”2 It is also the only known significant barite orebody in the UK that is economic to work.

The proposed mine could ensure that the UK is self-sufficient in barite and provide an indigenous and secure long term source of the mineral to the economically important UK North Sea oil and gas industry.

Barite crystal

Barite is an essential component for drilling fluids used in North Sea oil and gas exploration

  1. UK Minerals Forum, Final Report – Future Minerals Scenarios for the UK, July 2014.
  2. Perth & Kinross Council, Towards a Sustainable Future, Perth and Kinross Structure Plan – report of survey, June 2003, p. 31.