ABERDEEN, UK – MI-SWACO has submitted a proposal to develop a mine to extract barite at Duntanlich, near Aberfeldy in Scotland.
The proposed facility, which has a resource of more than 7.5 million metric tons (27 million tons) of barite, could supply the UK’s entire needs for more than 50 years at planned production rates, the company claims.
It would be a replacement for the company’s mine at Foss, which has operated since 1985. However, the deposit here is difficult to mine because of its complex geological structure and at increasing depth, the barite is becoming harder and more expensive to extract.
The Duntanlich ore body is reportedly the UK’s only known significant barite deposit that is economic to work, and could allow the country to become self-sufficient in a mineral critical to theNorth Sea oil and gas industry, MI-SWACO claims.
Barite is used mainly as a weighting agent fordrilling fluids in oil and gas exploration. There is apparently no substitute with all its essential properties.
A previous planning application to develop the Duntanlich resource was rejected in 1996 on the grounds of potential environmental impact. However, the new proposal is based on three years of environmental studies: it addresses previous concerns such as visual impact and impact on the road network.
Proposed annual production has also been scaled back from 200,000 metric tons to 120,000 metric tons (220,462 tons to 132,277 tons).
M-I SWACO has entered into pre-application discussions with Perth & Kinross Council and expects to submit a planning application this spring. The company believes production could start toward the end of 2017.