Baryte, barite or barytes is a mineral consisting of barium sulfate. It occurs naturally in hydrothermal ore veins, in sedimentary rocks like limestone, in clay deposits formed by weathered limestone, in marine deposits, and in igneous rock cavities.
It is used as an aggregate in “heavy” cement, a filler or extender, an addition to industrial products, or a weighting agent in petroleum well drilling. Typical price of drilling mud barite is about $150 or ₦61,620 per metric tonne, at the mine.
The Nigerian government through the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development (MMSD) has launched a made-in-Nigeria barite. The event took place in Port-Harcourt, Rivers State, on Thursday 28 Oct 2021.
This puts Nigeria on the radar of global barite mining countries and will save the country about ₦5 billion spent annually on barite importation. It will also create many jobs in the value chain.
In Nigeria, Barite occurs in Nassarawa, Plateau, Taraba, Benue, Adamawa, Cross River, Gombe, Ebonyi, and Zamfara States, with an estimated reserve of 15 million metric tonnes worth $2.25 billion or ₦924 billion.
In 2020, data by Statista shows global production of barite at 7.5 million metric tons. China, with 40% of global output, is the leading barite producer while the USA is the world’s leading consumer. More than 90% of barite sold in the US is used as a weighting agent in fluids used in drilling of oil and natural gas wells.