Barite

BARITE (EN: barite, baryte, cawk, heavy spar; DE: Baryt, Schwerspat; FR: baryte, barytine, barytite; ES: baritina; RU: барит) is the mineral of the class of sulfates, BaSO4. The content of BaO is 65.7%.

Barite is replaced by strontium; there is between them the complete isomorphic miscibility, but the intermediate members, namely, the barytocelestite, celestobarite, are rare. The impurities are: Ca (calcareobarite), and Pb (up to 22% of PbO within the hokutolite). It crystallizes into the rhombic crystal system. The basis of the structure of barite is the single SO4-tetrahedra, which alternate with cationic polyhedron, with the forming of the sub-lamination parallel to the (001) plane. Thanks to this fact, barite has the perfect cleavage along the (001) plane. It forms the thin and thick tabular or elongated prismatic crystals, and their intergrowths. There are common the coarse-grained and dense aggregates, lamellar masses; there may be found the so-called barite roses, spherical concretions, less often colloform aggregates, sometimes zonal-concentric ones, and so on. It is usually colourless or snowy white. Thanks to the mechanical micro-inclusions or defects within the structure, it is coloured into the yellowish, light blue, reddish, greenish, and other colours. It is transparent to translucent. There are characteristic the high density (4300-4500 kilograms per cubic metre), low hardness (3.0-3.5), relatively small abrasiveness, insolubility within water. It is the main mineral of barium. The major clusters are confined to the veinous middle-temperature and low-temperature hydrothermal deposits. It forms concretions within the sandy and argillaceous sediments. It is stable under the surface conditions, accumulates within the placer deposits with the forming of the residual deposits. The earthy clusters are characteristic for the zone of oxidation of the polymetallic deposits (the "баритовая сыпучка" in Russian, the barite in the form of the loose free-flowing fine-grained sand). Besides this, barite has been detected within the sulfur deposits; it is associated with the petroleum waters.

About the major types of the industrial deposits and beneficiation, see within the "Barite ores" article.

Barite is used as the weighting substance for the drilling fluids, as the filler within the paper, rubber, ceramics, laquers and paints, cement industries, for the manufacturing of the explosive substances, within the metallurgy, and so on.

Barite is the major source of barium and its compounds, which are used within the textile, leather, food, medical industries, within the electronics and radio engineering, during the manufacturing of the special plaster, which is impenetrable for the X-ray radiation. Clean crystals of barite without defects are used within the optics.