Proposals to develop a new mineral-resource mine to recover barite – which is used in the N. Sea oil and gas industry – in the Trossachs have been approved by Perth Cooncil.* Up to 30 new jobs will be created.
The mine, proposed by oilfield services company, M-I SWACO, is a replacement for the company’s mine at Foss, which has operated since 1985, but with a much smaller surface footprint.
The Duntanlich orebody at the site near Aberfeldy is unique in the UK. It is the only known significant barite deposit that is economic to work and will enable the UK to become self-sufficient in a mineral vital to the North Sea oil and gas industry, ensuring security of supply.
Barite is largely used as a weighting agent for drilling fluids in oil and gas exploration and there is no substitute with all the essential properties of this mineral. It also used as a value added product in the automobile and medical industries and as a weighting agent in civil engineering.
The Foss barite deposit has a complex geological structure which has made it increasingly difficult to mine. In comparison, a mine at Duntanlich, which has a simple geological structure, will supply the whole of the UK’s requirements for 50 years at planned production rates.
The Duntanlich development will provide skilled employment for around 30 people, drawn from the local area, where employment is largely reliant on tourism and forestry. The development will also provide indirect employment opportunities for local suppliers and contractors.
The site access, taken from the A827 close to the A9 Ballinluig junction, will remove existing Foss mine traffic from the settlements in the Upper Tay valley. Production of up to 120,000 tonnes per annum is proposed.
Ian Hughes, Project Manager for M-I SWACO – part of the Schlumberger oilfield services giant – said: “The development proposals ensure that there is no visibility from the highly- sensitive Queen’s View and minimal visibility from the surrounding area.”
** ‘Cooncil’ is the Scots language word for ‘council’ and is not pejorative: