The mineral barite occurs in the Dalradian Supergroup rocks around Aberfeldy in Scotland and is currently being mined at the Foss mine to the north-west of the town. Its most useful characteristics are its density (about 4.5 g/cm3), inertness, ready availability and the fact that it’s non-magnetic. Barite does dirty but useful jobs, as it explains below.

I’m not the brightest mineral when I’m mined –
I’m non-magnetic, dense, inert and cheap.
The oil prospectors reckon I’m designed
For mixing up with mud and pumping deep.

In concrete, I’ll absorb stray radiation
From nuclear and therapeutic plants.
So think of me, in Britain’s northern nation,
As Scotland does its devolution dance.

[Image: Wikimedia Commons]
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