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CP&E
Contractors Plant & Equipment

NOVEMBER 2009 ISSUE  - CP&E - Contractors Plant & Equipment -  the digital publication for construction, mining, quarrying and demolition industries
Nov 2009

 

Baryte Mining In the Scottish Highlands

   SCOTLAND - Demanding Conditions:
   Baryte Mining In the Scottish Highlands

The only mined source of barytes in the UK, and Scotland's last deep underground mine, is found at Foss in Perthshire. The Foss mine came into production in the mid-1980s to supply in excess of 50,000 tons of barytes annually to meet the demands of the North Sea Offshore oil industry needs. Some of the baryte also goes to the medical and pharmaceutical industries where it is used as a contrast medium for x-rays.

The underground mine is owned by the Forestry Commission and worked, under licence, by MI-SWACO. The mine produces over 80% of Baryte used in the UK

Access to the mine is not easy. It is at a height of over 600 m (2,000 ft) on the slopes of Meall Taireachan. The only means of access is by a 5 km long, steep, undulating, mountain road along the top of a ridge. Pilot production of the mine began in 1981, with full output coming three years later. The mine is approximately 150 m (500 ft) below the surface at its deepest vertical point and comprises 6.5 km (4 miles) of tunnels.

The baryte beds are typically 3 m thick but variations in the geological structure can reduce this to less than 1 m or increase up to depths in excess of 15 m of very high quality material.

Because of the height of the mine above sea water, water is not a serious problem. Nevertheless, some pumping of the water is necessary daily. This is into settlement ponds, where it is treated with lime to neutralise, the high acidity level.

In early 2008, the mine recorded a milestone with the production of its one millionth tonne. The material is extracted using drill and blast. A load-haul-dumper (LHD) hauls the material out of the mine and deposits it to a stockpile at the mine head.

Access to the mine is not easy. It is at a height of over 600 m (2,000 ft) on the slopes of Meall Taireachan. The only means of access is by a 5 km long, steep, undulating, mountain road along the top of a ridge.

During the winter, access for the 8 miners, who typically work 7 hour shifts each workday, often has to be done by snowcat when Barhaul is not able to keep the road open with a snow blower.

“Last year, the snow was so deep that we could not access the mine for 11 weeks”, say Patrick Bradley., Managing Director for Barhaul.

[cont]


 
 

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