The oil and gas industry is the primary user of barite worldwide. There it is used as a weighting agent in drilling mud. This is a growth industry, as global demand for oil and natural gas has been on a long-term increase. In addition, the long-term drilling trend is more feet of drilling per barrel of oil produced.
This has caused the price of barite to increase. Price levels during 2012 were between 10% and 20% higher than 2011 in many important markets. The typical price of drilling mud barite is about $150 per metric ton at the mine.
Substitutes for barite in drilling mud include celestite,ilmenite, iron ore, and synthetic hematite. None of these substitutes have been effective at displacing barite in any major market area. They are too expensive or do not perform competitively.
China and India are the leading producers of barite, and they also have the largest reserves.