Barytes (or barite) is the naturally occurring mineral form of barium sulphate. Its main properties are its high specific gravity (4.5), very low solubility; it is non-toxic, and also chemically and physically unreactive.
It is extracted by both surface and underground mining, followed by simple physical processing methods to produce the correctly sized product and to remove extraneous materials.
Some 70% worldwide is used as a weighting agent for drilling fluids in oil and gas exploration. Other uses are in added-value applications which include the car, electronics, TV screen, rubber, and glass ceramics and paint industry, radiation shielding, and medical applications (barium meals). Barytes is supplied in a variety of forms and the price depends on the amount of processing; filler applications commanding higher prices following intense physical processing by grinding and micronizing, and there are further premiums for whiteness and brightness, and color.
The resource is hosted by assorted sedimentary rocks (shale, mudstone, siltstone, limestone). The barytes occur in the form of veins having a width varying between a few centimeters to 3.5 meters. Veins persist along strike for distances varying between just under 1,000 meters to over 4,000 meters.
Laboratory studies conducted on samples from the state show that the specific gravity of mine materials varies between 3.9 and 4.4. This is within the specification of the American Petroleum Institute (API). However, some samples have specific gravity values of less than 3.6. Such samples are silica-rich varieties not suitable for use unless beneficiated. The impurities indicated by analytical data are quartz, celestite, and iron oxide.
The inferred resource of barytes in the region is 3,243,376 metric tonnes calculated using an average specific gravity of 4.2 and a vein depth projected to 20 meters.