Barite and fluorspar
General information and occurrence
Because of its high specific gravity, barite (BaSO4) is currently used mainly as a weighting agent in a well drilling. Its use in the paper, chemical and paint industries is gradually shrinking at the advantage of an artificially produced titanium white (titanium dioxide)
Fluorspar (CaF2) is used as a flux in a metallurgy (in a steel production to aid the removal of impurities, and in the production of aluminum) and in ceramic and chemical industries.
Barite and fluorspar are minerals occurring in the hydrothermal veins in a paragenesis with metal sulphides. They were exploited jointly from deposits located in the Lower Silesia area, therefore they are discussed together. Except of the deposits from the mentioned above area, the barite accumulations are also known in the Holy Cross Mts.
In the deposits located in the Lower Silesia region, 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. Generally speaking, the content of fluorite generally increases along with the depth. In Boguszów mine (in the vicinities of Wałbrzych) fluorite can be spotted at the depth of 400 meters. 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 resources were reclassified as anticipated sub-economic. The next year – that is in 1998 – also the mining operations in the Stanisławów mine were abandoned as insufficiently profitable. The barytic flours had been produced till the year 2008 using the waste material coming from the sedimentary ponds.
In the past, barite was also extracted from Strawczynek deposit in the Holy Cross Mts. Nowadays the exploitation is abandoned. In this deposit barite occurs in the form of irregular nests and intergrowths in carbonate rocks of the Lower Devonian where the useful component content is low (about 30%) and the resources are relatively small.
Documented anticipated economic resources of barite are estimated at 5.67 million tonnes and those of fluorspar – at 0.54 million tonnes. Due to the abandoned exploitation, the resources have not changed for a couple of years. The total domestic demand is covered by import.
For the last couple of years – due to the increasing demand for the barytic flours for the well drilling – the restarting of the barite mines has been considered (mainly Stanisławów deposit as one of the biggest deposits in Europe). The prospective of enlarging the barite resources can be connected with the secondary tectonic zones along the Intrasudetic Fault, in the western extension of Jeżów Sudecki deposit and in the northern extension of Jedlinka deposit. The prognostic resources of barite are currently assessed to be equal 2.49 million tonnes, whereas the prospective resources – 1.67 million tonnes*. In turn, the prognostic resources of fluorite have been assessed to be equal 0.29 million tonnes and prospective resources – 0.10 million tonnes.
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., 2020 - Baryt (barite, baryte) i fluoryt (fluorite, fluorspar). In: Bilans perspektywicznych zasobów kopalin Polski wg stanu na 31.12.2018 r. (eds. Szamałek K., Szuflicki M., Mizerski W.): 207-212. PIG-PIB, Warszawa.