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any naturally occurring salt of sulfuric acid. About 200 distinct kinds of sulfates are recorded in mineralogical literature, but most of them are of rare and local occurrence. Abundant deposits of sulfate minerals, such as barite and celestite, are exploited for the preparation of metal salts. Many beds of sulfate minerals are mined for fertilizer and salt preparations, and beds of pure gypsum are mined for the preparation of plaster of paris.