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British Industrial History

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Barium Consolidated

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of 31/33 Bishopsgate, London, EC3. Telephone: Wall 3048. Cables: "Bariumcon". Mine and Works: Sligo, Irish Free State. Telegraphic Address: "Barium, Cliffoney". (1929)

  • The main barytes vein at Benbulbe was first worked in 1858. Donkeys were used to carry the ore to the base of the mountain and then carted it to Mullaghmore for shipping to Liverpool.
  • Later, an innovative aerial ropeway was installed to carry buckets of ore down, and empty buckets back up to the top of the mountain.
  • Between 1875 and 1888 the mine was abandoned but then Henry Gore-Booth initiated what would turn out to be the longest period of barytes mining in Bréifne.
  • Between 1888 and 1915, an average of 475 tons of raw barytes was produced per year.
  • The mines were again abandoned and then reopened for a few years in 1927 by Barium Consolidated Ltd (BCL), a British company whose main innovation was to build a narrow-gauge railway from Gleniff to Mullaghmore harbour, via Ballintrillick. A petrol engine locomotive hauled coal from Mullaghmore and Barytes from the end of the valley. A single rail gravity operated tramway carried the ore down from the mine at the top of the mountain. The full carriage coming down pulled the empty ones up. A bypassing track operated about half way up.
  • 1928 Barium Consolidated started mining Barytes.
  • International problems created difficulties for the Sligo enterprise. They constructed a steam driven processing mill beside the Ballintrillick river on the opposite bank to the abandoned 19th century mill. The new mill was known as the Pilot Mill and a narrow gauge railway line connected the mill to the Mullaghmore harbour and loading platforms at southern end of the Gleniff valley.
  • 1929 Listed Exhibitor. Manufacturers of Barium Sulphate (Fine Ground Barytes) and Barium Compounds. (Stand No. K.111) [1]
  • 1931/2 Barium Consolidated wound down production and closed the mine
  • Note:
    • In 1942, Benbulben Barytes constructed an aerial ropeway to Glencar on the south side of the mountain. The company also built a processing facility at Sligo docks. Barytes at this time was mainly used in the paint industry but by 1975 when the American company Imco, a Halliburton subsidiary, began developing the mine as Sligo Bay Barytes, it was almost exclusively used as a drilling mud in the oil exploration industry. At the time, Ireland was Europe's major barytes producer and the Benbulben mine was a valuable resource. Sligo Bay Barytes produced an estimated maximum of 50,000 tons per year before closing in 1979, as the vein was found to become uneconomic as excavations deepened.


See Also

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Sources of Information

  • [1] Bréifne
  • [2] Sligo Barytes