Baryte is a naturally occurring barium sulfate mineral and a part of baryte group. Baryte has great range of colors and varied crystal habits. It is found in the form of crystals in sediments and sedimentary rocks. It is also found in concretions and vein fillings in limestone, dolostone, sand and sandstones. Baryte is majorly found in countries such as Nigeria, Canada, Liberia, Mexico, Peru, Turkey, South Africa, Thailand, UK, China, Greece, India, Iran and Ireland among others. It is non-toxic, has good inertia, good stability, low solubility, high specific gravity and moderate rigidity that makes it an environmental friendly material. Baryte often replaces other minerals and organic materials such as fossils, shells and wood among others.
Baryte is a very important industrial mineral and has wide range of applications. Majority of baryte is used as a weighting agent for drilling muds in oil and gas industry to repress pressure and prevent blowouts. Baryte is also used as a pigment in paints and as a weighted filler for cloth, rubber and paper. Since baryte is a primary ore of barium, it is used to make wide variety of barium compounds such as chloride, nitrate, carbonate and hydrate among others which can be used for ray shielding. Baryte has ability to block X-ray and gamma-ray emissions and is used in hospitals, power plants and laboratories. Baryte compounds have been used in diagnostic medical tests where patients are made to drink liquid containing barium powder to get an xray of the soft tissue of the esophagus. Since barium is opaque to X-rays and blocks their passage, an image of the esophagus is possible. Similarly, barium enema can be used to image the shape of colon. The non-toxic property of baryte also makes it an ideal substitute of titanium dioxide in cosmetics. In addition, baryte compounds containing nitrites are used in manufacture of fireworks and ceramic glazes and baryte compound containing flurodes are used for infrared applications.
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The increasing demand for oil has lead to increase in the drilling activities of oil and gas industry, which will be a major driving factor for the baryte market. The rapid economic growth in Brazil, Russia, China and India has lead to increase in infrastructure projects and increase in demand for automobiles, which is likely to have a positive impact on the bayrte industry. In addition, a booming construction industry is expected to increase the demand for paints and coating, which will be another major driving factor for the baryte industry. However, the escalating world demand for baryte has resulted in price increase in recent years.
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Asia Pacific dominates the demand and supply of baryte and is the fastest growing region for the baryte industry. China, Kazakhstan, Vietnam, Paksitan and India are the key markets in this region. The Middle East and North Africa is also an important market for baryte with Morocco, Turkey, and Iran being key players in this region. Driven by the shale oil and gas exploration boom, demand for baryte is set to grow tremendously in the U.S. in the next couple of years.
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