Barite Market: A Concise Guide with COVID-19 Situation Analysis
The demand of barite has been decreased since the emergence of coronavirus. Barite is an amazing mineral with different shapes, size, colors, and applications. This article summarizes the types, processes, and applications of barite. The leading players of the market are developing new strategies so that the market can recover from the damage of the pandemic at the earliest.
Let’s begin with some amazing facts about barite. The name ‘barite’ was derived from the Greek word ‘barys’ which means ‘heavy’ indicating the high specific gravity of barium sulfate. Heavy spar is another term often used to refer to barite.
Sometimes, barite crystals are streaked blue, yellow, and brown. There’s also a golden colored barite which is found in South Dakota.
Resembling to aquamarine, transparent blue barite crystals can be distinguished based on their shape, weight, and softness.
Stalagmitic, stalactitic, massive, fibrous, concretionary are the different types of barite. Barite is found in lead and zinc an accessory mineral. Barite can also be found in clay deposits, marine deposits, sedimentary rocks, and cavities in igneous rocks.
Bedded, residual and vein and cavity fillings are the three crucial types of barite deposits.
Open pit mining technique is mostly used to produce barite. The mineral is then separated from the barite ore by simple beneficiation methods. Such methods involve processes such as washing, jigging and tabling which makes the dense material isolated.
However, there are times when more complex beneficiation methods such as flotation, heavy media separation, and magnetic separation are also utilized.
Applications of Barite
This is one of the most important application of barite. It is used as weighting agent in drilling muds for petroleum wells. United States uses almost 99% of the barite just for this purpose.
These high-density muds are pumped down the drill stem, exit through the cutting bit and return to the surface between the drill stem and the wall of the well. This flow of fluid does two things:
First, it cools the drill bit and secondly, the high-density barite mud suspends the drill-produced rock cuttings and carries them up to the surface.
Barite has many uses regarding to paint industry. It is used as a tincture in paints and sometimes, as a weighted filler for cloth, paper, and rubber. Some playing card papers contains barite packed between the paper fibers which fill the paper with a very high density. Another usage of barite is as a weighting filler in rubber to make "anti-sail" mudflaps for trucks.
Preventing X-ray emission
Barite, the main ore of barium, helps in making a varied types of barium compounds. Some of these compounds are used for x-ray shielding. Barite is able to block x-ray and gamma-ray radiations. Therefore, high-density concretes are made of barite so that the x-ray emissions in power plants, laboratories, and hospitals are blocked.
Hospitals also require barite compounds for successful diagnosis. For instance, if a patient requires diagnosis of the esophagus, he is provided with a small cup of liquid that contains a barium powder in a milkshake consistency. The liquid then layers the patient's esophagus. An x-ray of the throat taken instantly after the drink, captures the soft tissue of the esophagus because the barium is opaque to x-rays and blocks the passage of the rays.
Impact of COVID-19 on the Industry
With the emergence of coronavirus pandemic, the global barite market has also witnessed a drastic low in past few months, just like many other industries. Because of the lockdown and restriction of the supply chain worldwide, the extraction of the barite was stopped temporarily. Moreover, the demand of the barite compounds is also decreased.
Another reason behind the decline of the barite market is that many countries have halted trade with China for many external affairs during the critical period. Notably, China is one of the world’s largest trader of barite. This factor has also impacted the market in a negative way.
However, as the lockdowns and restrictions has now been lifted in many countries looking at the flattening curve of COVID-19 cases, the industries are back in business. The leading players of the market has started focusing on the R&D and other strategies so that the market can recover from the loss in the 2nd or 3rd quarter of 2021.
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