Barite is the principle ore of barium, (Ba), atomic number 56, a soft silvery alkaline earth metal. Barite (barium sulfate, BaSO4) is one of the most common weighting agents used in drilling muds for oil and natural gas exploration. But this mineral (which can be analyzed using X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) technology) has many other industrial uses as well. It is better known as an x-ray contrast agent which is consumed for medical diagnostic tests. It’s also used in high-density concrete for radiation shielding around x-ray units in hospitals, nuclear power plants, and university nuclear research facilities. Barite’s other industrial uses are as a weighting agent in paints, plastics, and rubber; as a component in automobile brake and clutch pads; and as a material used in the cement jacket around underwater petroleum pipelines. No wonder it gets its name from the Greek word “barys” meaning “heavy.” To get a quick glimpse at Barite and Barium, take a look at this infographic: 9 Fast Facts About Barium.