Barite and fluorspar
Because of its high specific gravity, barite (BaSO4) is currently used mainly as a weighting agent in a well drilling. Its use in paper, chemical and paint industry is gradually shrinking at the advantage of an artificially produced titanium white (titanium dioxide).
Fluorspar (CaF2) is used as a flux in metallurgy (in steel production to aid the removal of impurities, and in production of aluminum) and in ceramics and chemical industries.
In recently abandoned mine operations in Boguszów and Stanisławów deposits (Lower Silesia), barite occurs in paragenesis with fluorspar so the deposits are discussed jointly here. Economic accumulations of barite also occur in the Holy Cross Mts.
In Boguszów and Stanisławów deposits, barite accumulations are related to veins of various length and width, generally very steeply dipping and representing fissure fills along faults. A mean content of BaSO4 in these veins is about 80% and that of fluorite – from a few to over a dozen percent. It should be noted that content of fluorite generally increases along with depth.
The mine exploiting Boguszów deposit was completely flooded during catastrophic flood of July 1997. The mine was abandoned in the result of that damage and the deposit reclassified as potentially economic only. The next year – that is in 1998 – also the mining operations in Stanisławów deposit were abandoned as insufficiently profitable.
Some decades ago, barite was also extracted from Strawczynek deposit in the Holy Cross Mts. In this deposit, barite occurs in the form of irregular nests and intergrowths in carbonate rocks of the Lower Devonian. The mining operation was abandoned because of a low BaSO4 content (about 30%) and small resources of the deposit.
The whole domestic demand for barite and fluorspar is covered by import.
Documented resources of barite are estimated at 5.67 million tonnes and those of fluorspar – at 0.54 million tonnes.
In a view of increasing demand for barite there are plans to restart the exploitation of barite deposits (especially Stanisławów deposit). Prognostic resources of barite amounted to 2.5 million tonnes and perspective resources to 1.67 million tonnes as of 31.12.2009*.
Location of barite and fluorspar deposits in Poland are presented on the map.
Table 1 shows the current state of identification and management of barite and fluorspar resources in Poland.
Prepared by: Robert Bońda
*Sroga C., 2011 – Baryt i fluoryt. In: Bilans perspektywicznych zasobów kopalin Polski wg stanu na 31 XII 2009 r. (ed. S. Wołkowicz, T. Smakowski, S. Speczik): 122-127. PIG-PIB, Warszawa.