Market demand for barytes has declined dramatically since
mid-2008. But for producers of filler grades, it could be
Global barytes output last year hit a high of 8.5m. tonnes
over 50% of which was produced by China. But the situation has
changed since the boom times for the most part of 2008. Barytes
output is forecast to slump in 2009 to between 7.5 and 7.9m.
tonnes as a demand drop from all markets is realised. China,
unsurprisingly, will take most of the hit.
Demand from the oil and gas drilling market, in which around
85% of barytes is used, is down 50-60%. Despite barytes second
biggest market, fillers, reporting significant demand falls,
its wide range of applications from paints and plastics
to sound proofing and radiation shielding is set to give
the market solidity and security.
Asia: the worlds supply
China truly drives world barytes supply mining 5.5m. tpa in
2008. Its consumption level, however, is only a third of that
of the USA (1.1m. tpa), this is expected to significantly
change over the next five years. Filler grade production in
China represents around 10% of the total output.
Chinese barytes production in 2008 was hit by significantly
disruptive events: the severe winter in central and southern
China, rains and flooding, and the devastating Sichuan
earthquake on 12 May.
Chinas major barytes producing provinces are Guangxi,
Guizhou, Sichuan and Hunan. As the accompanying map
demonstrates, all three severe natural hazard events hit
directly the barytes mining regions.
Chinas 2008 barytes disruption
Barytes mining in China (outlined in black) was directly
hit with three severe natural hazards - snowstorms,
flooding, and the
Sichuan earthquake - disrupting production.
The winter storms in January and February 2008 ground all
operations in western, central China to a halt and cost the
countrys economy $15,000m. Significant flooding followed
in June of that year resulting in disruption some of the open
pit mines and the flooding of underground operations,
particularly in Guangxi. The rainfall of 7-8 June in Guangdong
was the heaviest in 50 years for China.
In the aftermath of the 7.9 Richter scale earthquake which
struck Sichuan province and significantly impacted adjacent
provinces, the Chinese government mobilised all the available
rail cars to transport water, food and medical supplies to the
This caused a shortage of rail cars for the barytes industry
located in the provinces of Guangxi, Guizhou, Sichuan and Hunan
miners which have to move tonnages to the southern ports, in
particular Zhanjiang in Guangdong and Fangcheng in Guangxi
(IM June 2008, p.6: Sichuan
quake impacts barytes supply).
White filler grade production from Sichuan was among the
hardest mining areas hit.
The cost of road transport limited barytes transport via
Steinbock Minerals Ltd explained to IM that
this was the first time in 50 years producers faced such a
barrage of natural challenges.
Steinbock, which mines barytes from Guizhou province,
reacted by stockpiling the mineral until better conditions
prevailed. The company sources white paint grade barytes from
Kaili and Duyun in southern Guizhou province.
The mine in Guizhou opened in May 2008 and has a 5m. tonne
reserve. In mid-2008 it was producing 3,000 tpm all grades.
This has since ramped up to 7-9,000 tpm with the capacity to
reach 10,000 tpm.
From this mine Steinbock produces filler, chemical and
drilling grades. Its white barytes is predominately from vein
deposits while the grey/off-white barytes is from stratiform
Steinbock states that its grey chemical barytes
(BaSO4 >96%) is used in the plastics, paper,
paints, coatings industries, while its high brightness white
filler is for paints and plastics applications.
In China, chemical and white filler grades of barytes are
also mined from Dali in Yunnan province for domestic use. The
location is primarily a source of drilling grade but the lower
price it commands makes shipping by rail or roads
Historically, China has produced a large quantity of
off-white product, but with new producers and more importantly
internal demand requiring larger quantities and higher
specifications (fuelled by its 7-8% GDP growth in these
recessionary times), China is well underway covering all grades
and qualities of filler product.
Indian barytes production is the worlds second largest
at 1.1m. tpa in 2008, nearly all of which is mined from the
74m. tonne Mangampet barytes deposit, one the worlds
largest in the south-east state of Andrah Pradesh and exported
through Chennai Port.
Andrah Pradesh Mineral Development Corp. (APMDC) is the
leading producer in India with a 300, 000 tpa output in 2008
while Gimpex Ltd produced 200,000 tpa from the same deposit
APMDC supplies 200,000 tpa of barytes A grade or
oil well drilling grade to Ashapura Minechem Ltd for sale to
domestic markets, and barytes powder (filler) and barium
chemical feedstock for local industry.
Ashapura has agreed to buy 16,667 tonnes of A grade barytes
every month until August 2011 at a price of Rs1,944/tonne
($341/tonne in August 2009) ex-Mangampet mine/plot on the basis
of 4.25 SG.
IBC Ltd (formerly India Barytes Co.) has mined white barytes
over 500 acres lease in Khammam District in Andhra Pradesh for
the past eight years. The operation is predominately manual
underground mining which has limited production of filler grade
barytes so far.
IBCL explained to IM, however, that its
white filler grade will increase threefold from 10,000 tpa to
30,000 tpa while production of off-white will rise from 15,000
tpa to 50,000 tpa.
The company aims to achieve this through mechanisation of
IBCLs managing director, K. Rajamohan Reddy, told IM:
The deposits have now been proven and IBCL are taking
steps to increase production by introducing mechanised mining.
Innovative methods are being established for increasing white
barytes production. IBCL are also setting up a jigging plant at
mines site for enriching and additional recovery of white and
Presently the company supplies the domestic market, however,
the new production will target European and North American
IBCL also operates subsidiary Mahalakshmi Micro Minerals in
Kadapa, south-central Andrah Pradesh, which processes white
barytes into a 500 mesh powder for domestic industries.
Vietnam contributes around 150,000 tpa to world barytes
production. The vast majority of this is sold into the
south-east Asian oil well drilling markets.
Ha Noi based Vietnam Mineral Resources (VMR) operates a
number of mines in the northern province of Tuyên
In Tien Bo, Yen Son district VMR has two 4.2SG barytes
operational mines and one in Tu Quan.
From Tien Bo, VMR produces 50,000 tpa lump barytes ore,
primarily for oil drilling markets, with filler potential. It
is also developing two mines in Thuong Am, Son Duong district
in Vietnams north, one mine in Dao Vien, Yen Son
VMR sells its barytes either as lump or as powder in 1,500
kg and 1,000 kg big bags, and 45.56 kg craft bags.
Global barytes production and consumption 2008/09
Europe: processing dominates
Europes barytes industry is defined by a number of
processors with limited production of barytes from the mines
that are still operational.
Leading filler processors in Germany are Sachletben Bergbau
GmbH, Deutsche Baryt-Industrie and Solvay SA (which
manufactures a synthetic product called Blanc Fixe
Netherlands is home to one of the leading filler producers,
Ankerpoort NV, and CEBO Holland NV, while Spains Minerals
Girona SA and the UKs Viaton Industries Ltd are also
significant industry participants.
Viaton, based in Brassington, Derbyshire, UK, explained to
IM how it has been hit with significantly low
We are operating at 25% below these levels with slight
upturn recently Richard Edwards, sales director at
Viaton, explained to IM.
[Demand is down nearly 30%] mainly due to
manufacturers destocking in raw materials to concentrate on
working capital [this is driven by the] the falling demand for
white goods (powder coatings) and new cars (friction
products), Edwards added.
Viaton produces 50,000 tpa of barytes for filler and
extender markets 40,000 tpa from its UK plant and 10,000
tpa from a joint-venture plant in China.
Our main grades are for the filler and extender
markets in paints, powder coatings, plastics, adhesives and the
friction industries, Edwards said, we have a joint
venture partnership with our material supplier in China... the
partnership provides long term security of supply for us and
SCR-Sibelco owned Ankerpoort NV is significant supplier of
white barytes through eight production units across Europe.
The company produces Diamelia and Portayte brands for high
value applications such as polymers these compete with
precipiatated barytes product, Blanc Fixe.
Ankerpoort also produces Opalia barytes for a range of
applications is X-ray absorption, paints and plastics.
CEBO Holland BV, a filler grade supplier for automotive
sound insulation, has explained its sales have plummeted by 50%
in the last year.
CEBO processes all of its 10,000 tpa barytes at its
Ijmuiden, Netherlands plant, the vast majority of which is sold
to European markets for sound insulation. The significant
decline in European auto manufacturing has therefore hit the
Luuk van Tooren, CEBOs manager of sales and marketing
explained to IM that he does not expect to see
any improvement within in the next six months and that there
are not many readily available alternative markets.
Solvays synthetic filler
Solvay SA through its Barium and Strontium subsidiary
produces Blanc Fixe, synthetic barytes for high value
applications. Blanc Fixe uses off white barytes as a feedstock,
and competes with the high specification grades of natural
filler white barytes.
Dr Rolf Gerstenberg, raw materials manager told
IM: In Italy we produce the synthetic
barytes which is used as a filler and extender. We make
sub-micron grades to a very high specification.
Gerstenberg explained that demand has dropped in the
last six months citing significant declines in automobile
and construction markets, which indirectly hits Solvay as it
supplies companies who manufacture products for these huge
We are yet to see an upturn except in Asia, said
Gerstenberg, which has already started [to
Solvay is not making any predictions as to when an upturn
will come, however. Gerstenberg said: If you deliver to
Asia a lot of people have stockpiles of product. With
destocking occurring on several levels, you cannot tell if you
are still in or out of the crisis.
USA: driving consumption
US filler barytes demand is holding up considerably better
than its drilling grade counterpart. While demand for oil
drilling grades, predominately from operations in the Gulf of
Mexico and Nevada, is down as much as 50-60%, filler grade is
selling at a steady rate.
The USA relies heavily on filler barytes imports. It has
active miners and processors of barytes, such as Halliburton
Energy Services and M-I Swaco, but they are heavily orientated
to the oil drilling markets.
There is a lot less barytes activity in the USA with
quite a lot of absorption occurring explained Peter
Huxtable, Director of The Barytes Association.
Much of the manufacturing in the USA has moved into China
and higher value products. This has been demonstrated by
companies such as the UKs Viaton establishing plants in
UK based Anglo Pacific Minerals Ltd, which ships 25,000 tpa
white filler barytes (lump ore) from China to the USA,
explained to IM that it has already sold half
of its expected target for 2010.
John Allen, managing director of Anglo Pacific said:
[The filler barytes] we shipped in 2008 and 2009 will see
our customers to 2010. For 2010 we have already booked 12,000
tpa [worth of orders]. This is 50% of the companys
Anglo Pacifics barytes is for paints, automobile
clutch and break markets.
There is presently an US import tariff on crude barytes of
The USA is heavily reliant on China for its supply of
barytes. Chinese imports account for over 90% of the imported
barytes tonnages in the USA while India is the second largest
contributor of barytes, exporting around 7% or 224,000 tpa to
USAs barytes supply is presently experiencing positive
times despite the overall demand slump with new sources of oil
drilling grades being mined. Kent Exploration Inc. mining at
Flagstaff, Washington and Canadian company, Blackfire
Exploration Ltd mining in Chiapas, Mexico are both new sources
of drilling grade barytes.
Although neither sources mine filler grade, Blackfire told
IM that it is presently testing filler and
chemical grade potential its Payback Mine, in southern Mexico,
for the North American markets.
Barytes use in the USA is mainly in oil and gas drilling
industry with many of those involved clustering around the Gulf
of Mexico (GoM) and Nevada the hubs of drilling
Demand from the GoM region however has plummeted and in July
2009 was at virtually zero (IM 8 June 2009: US drilling
A leading US purchaser of drilling grade barytes told
IM: The largest market [ie. GoM] will
decline this year significantly. If required demand drops to
less than 2m. tonnes, and Nevada produces more than 500,000
tonnes, which it will easily do, then US imports will go down
to less than 1.5m. tonnes.
This is expected to skew the figures in favour of filler
grade barytes when 2009 comes to a close.
Excalibur Minerals LLC is a processor of industrial minerals
and a leading producer of barytes products. At the start of
2008 the Houston, Texas based company had a capacity of 700,000
tpa of its ExBAR grade in 200, 325, 400 mesh sizes to the
paints, plastics, rubber, adhesives, and sealants markets.
Georgia based Cimbar Performance Minerals processes filler
barytes for extender, coatings and chemicals applications.
In 2008, the company produced 120,000 tpa all grades
barytes: 90% industrial grade for filler and
chemical applications and 10% for oil well drilling
Cimbar has processing plants in Cartersville and Chatsworth,
Georgia, Postosi in Missouri, Houston, Texas, and southern
The company supplies the niche, speciality markets of powder
coatings, gloss, ink and PVC markets with its CIMBAR and
Barimite grade barytes. Cimbars lower brightness Bara 325
is more of a general purpose grade for filler and extender
USA barytes usage
USA import sources
Source: USGS, The Barytes Association, IM
In addition to the main production and processing hubs
discussed, a handful of barytes mining operations exist in the
Morocco (500,000 tpa), Iran (250,000 tpa), Kazakhstan (150,000
tpa), Mexico (150,000 tpa), and Turkey (150,000 tpa).
While much of this production (an estimated 90%) is for the
drilling markets, some white filler grade material is sourced
from Morocco and Turkey.
Morocco has much white barytes and a certain amount of
off white explained Huxtable of The Barytes Association,
the white material competes with other pigment minerals
and Blanc Fixe.
Turkeys Ado Mining produces filler grade barytes from
its 240,000 tpa operation, although sales are mainly to global
oil and gas drilling markets.
Exploration of future barytes deposits has been limited.
Nigeria is continually being touted as a new source and Gabon
is emerging through development work by Indias Taurian
Resources, but as the oil and gas drilling market remains so
depressed, there is little incentive to invest in new deposits
I do believe there will be a change in climate and a
renaissance in mineral extraction in Europe, Huxtable
Increasing awareness of companies carbon footprint and
the need to reduce dependency on China as a mineral supplier,
Huxtable believes, will result in a return to local
Such a thought process has resulted in the reconsideration
of barytes mines in Perthshire, Scotland. Planning permission
has hindered this so far, however.
How will filler grade barytes fair in the future? None of
barytes markets remain unscathed from the global recession.
Total global barytes production in 2009 is forecast to
7.5-7.9m. tpa from a high of 8.5m. tpa in 2008.
The filler market however will be the most robust performer.
It presently commands a market share of 10-15% or around
850,000 tpa to 1.2m. tpa, a figure which has increased in the
last five years by around 300,000 tpa.
This is set to continue its relative rise in comparison to
oil drilling markets and use in barium chemicals, which are
Barytes chemical markets have experienced a steady
decline in relation to its main use in cathode ray tube (CRT)
televisions which utilise barium compounds using barytes as a
feedstock. The emergence of new flat screen and liquid crystal
display models have forced down the use of chemical grade, now
estimated to represent under 10% of total barytes demand.
Emerging uses for chemical grade are in construction
products, but this is not expected to make up the short fall
from the television demand deficit anytime soon.
As filler grade gradually eats away at chemical grade
barytes share, the oil and gas drilling market will
continue to dominate demand for the mineral despite the
significant short term fall in production.
Irrespective of good intentions to wean the world off its
addition to hydrocarbon fuels, significant drilling activity
will continue for decades to come, thus ensuring a continued,
if ultimately limited demand, for drilling grade.
Barytes at a glance
Mineral: Barytes or barite
Formula: Barium sulphate; BaSO4
World production 2008: 8.5m.
Main producers: China (58%), India (12%), USA
(7.5%), Morocco (6%)
Main consumers: USA (3.2m.), China (1.2m.),
Europe (800,000), Middle East (550,000), Russia (350,000),
India (350,000), South America (300,000)
Figures in tonnes per annum (tpa)
Markets in 2003/04
Markets in 2008/09
Source: The Barytes Association, IM estimates