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 Barite from 6ft vein, Gelantipy, Victoria (Scale: 5 cm)

Barite (BaSO4) is the most abundant ore of barium. Its high specific gravity makes it valuable in the petroleum exploration and production industry as a weighting agent in drilling fluids that are used to confine high oil and gas pressures and prevent ‘blowouts’. Barite is also used in glass making and as a white pigment in paint.

There are several small barite deposits in Victoria. The largest barite deposits in Victoria  are found in rocks known as the Lower Devonian Snowy River Volcanics. The  barite occurs with quartz–sulphide mineralisation and probably formed near the  end of episodes of volcanic activity.

The three largest barite deposits that have been mined in Victoria are the Glen Shiel and Kanni Creek (both in felsic volcanic rocks) and the Boulder Flat deposit (in Errinundra Group rocks). The barite produced from shallow open cuts in the Boulder Flat area in the early to mid-1980s was used mainly for drilling muds in the Bass Strait oilfield.

Several hundred tonnes of barite were mined from the Kanni Creek area north of Nowa Nowa, but there is no record of production details. The remaining barite at Kanni Creek is iron-stained.

Rocks of Cambrian age in the Dookie area contain minor amounts of barite, but no economically viable deposits have been identified to date. The most notable occurrence in this area is in a shallow pit at Mount Major, where barite has replaced beds of chert. Cambrian greenstones along the northern margin of the Melbourne Trough also contain minor amounts of barite.

Barite is also found as a gangue mineral in many gold and base metal deposits.

Return to Victorian industrial minerals index page

Further information

To create your own maps online and in real time, plan exploration activities by viewing land status, or download GIS data to add to your own maps, visit GeoVic.Map: Barite in Victoria.