Stripped down to the basics. All you need to know in a minute. Each Mineral Minute listed below comprises:
- Composition & Key Properties
- Geology & Occurrence
- Grades & Applications
- Sources & Production
- Price Indicator
- Market Drivers & Trends
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Known as “heavy spar”, barytes (also sp. barite) is vital as the weighting agent of choice in oil and gas drilling, its main market. Higher purity grades are also used in chemicals, glass, ceramics, and as a filler in plastics, coatings, and rubber. There are relatively few large commercially developed sources worldwide – China, India, and Morocco dominate supply of drilling grades. Drilling grade consumers are seeking new and alternative sources. Oilfield countries are the main market consumers, with higher purity industrial grades destined for developed manufacturing centres.
Bentonite’s physical properties permit its use in a range of markets of which the primary ones are foundry, cat litter, iron ore pelletising, drilling mud and civil engineering, which together account for approximately 80% of sales by volume. Bentonite is produced globally, but just 10 countries account for 85% of world production, with the USA and China contributing for approximately 50% of the total. Leading global exporters include India, US and Greece, while leading importers include Canada, Germany, Netherlands and Japan.
In recent years graphite has become a so-called “critical” or “strategic” mineral owing to its use in new energy applications such as in Li-ion batteries and feedstock for the new synthetic “wonder mineral” graphene. However, its large volume mainstay market remains as an important component in refractory products for the steel industry. Flake graphite is the main grade of choice for most uses. There are few commercially developed sources of natural graphite supply worldwide, and there is keen interest from a plethora of developers to bring on new and alternative sources.
Talc’s physical properties permit its use in a range of markets the primary ones being plastics, paint, ceramics, paper, rubber, and cosmetics. Commercially developed high quality talc deposits are limited, and well developed processing and sorting is essential for high quality talc grades. Just 15 countries account for 77% of world production, and outside China, just nine companies account for 53% of world output. A new supply force has emerged in Asia outside China, while Europe and the USA each host a talc processing sector which imports talc, mainly from Asia.