UK oilfield services company M-I SWACO has lodged a planning
application with the local council in Duntalich, north of
Aberfeldy in Scotland, for the development of its barite
The application was submitted to Perth & Kinross Council
and is the company’s second attempt to gain
project approval, as a previous planning application to develop
the resource was rejected in 1996.
M-I SWACO subsequently carried out three years of
environmental studies to address concerns such as visual impact
and the project’s effect on the road network.
The company also held a number of community consultation
events and meetings with stakeholders to inform the various
parties of the updated proposals.
"We have learnt a lot from the time of the previous
application and have made significant adjustments to our
proposals," Ian Hughes, project manager for M-I SWACO, said.
"We have engaged extensively with the local community and other
key stakeholders to ensure the success of this important
project for both the local area as well as nationally."
M-I SWACO is looking to produce 120,000 tpa barite from the
Duntalich mine, which is a replacement for its existing Foss
deposit, where the complex geological structure is making it
increasingly difficult to mine.
The Foss mine has been in operation since 1985 at a rate of
around 42,000 tpa.
Duntalich has a resource in excess of 7.5m tonnes barite
and, according to the company, could supply the
UK’s barite requirements for more than 50
"The Duntanlich orebody is unique in the UK," M-I SWACO
said. "It is the only known significant barite deposit that is
economic to work and will enable the UK to become
self-sufficient in a mineral vitally important to the North Sea
oil and gas industry, ensuring security of supply."
According to the company, a third of UK demand for barite is
fulfilled by domestic sources while the rest is imported,
mainly from Morocco.
The development of the mine would provide jobs for 30 people
from the local area, as well as indirect employment for local
suppliers and contractors, M-I SWACO added.
Barite is mainly used as a weighting agent for drilling
fluids in oil gas extraction and demand for the mineral is
closely tied in with shale oil and gas exploration.
The UK’s centre-right Conservative party, which
was returned to power in May this year for a five-year term,
has announced plans to support the safe development of shale
gas in the country by speeding up the time taken for fracking
In August, the UK’s Oil & Gas Authority
(OGA) said it was planning to officially offer 27 onshore
blocks from its 14th Onshore Oil and Gas Licencing
Round to companies in the country for the development of oil
and gas resources.
Should the development of these projects go ahead, the UK
could see an increase in demand for oilfield minerals such as
barite, bentonite, calcium carbonate and gilsonite –
used in drilling muds and casing – as well as for frac
sand, kaolin and bauxite proppant materials needed in