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General
  • Gypsum is a very soft mineral composed of calcium sulfate dihydrate, with the chemical formula CaSO42H2O . It is a by-product of phosphate which is used as fertilizer. 
  • This gypsum must be hauled from the phosphate field for further processing into wallboard. Gypsum contains the plant nutrients sulfate and calcium, both of which may be deficient in sandy soils.
  • Technically speaking, gypsum is a naturally occurring hydrated salt of calcium and sulfate (CaSO4-2H2O).
  • Gypsum is an abundant mineral that was formed millions of years ago due to evaporation of shallow seas.
  • One of the most common forms of raw gypsum is a pure white crystal called alabaster. 

Process

  • Gypsum is generally found underground near deposits of limestone or other minerals formed by evaporation. 
  • Gypsum is typically mined in an open pit quarry.  The process used to mine gypsum is very similar to that used in many other rock quarries.
  • First the exposed gypsum is fractured by drilling and blasting. At the processing plant, the large gypsum ore is reduced in size by passing it through a large crusher. Crushing the ore generates a mixture of smaller rocks. 
  • Sorting is accomplished by passing the gypsum through a series of vibrating screens and distributed to the end user.
  • Once a gypsum mine has been depleted of all of its ore, the mine is then "reclaimed".  This process involves returning the land to a state that is better than it was before the gypsum was removed. 

Application

  • A medicinal agent in traditional Chinese medicine called Shi Gao.
  • Gypsum is used as a component of Portland cement which is used to prevent flash setting of concrete.
  • A tofu (soy bean curd) coagulant, making it ultimately a major source of dietary calcium, especially in Asian cultures which traditionally use few dairy products.
  • Gypsum adds hardness to water which is used for homebrewing.
  • Gypsum is used as a Blackboard chalk.

Market

  • The top Gypsum producing US states are Oklahoma, California,  Iowa, Texas, Nevada, Michigan, and New Mexico. These states accounted for 75% of the total output. 
  • The top three gypsum producing countries are were the United States, Australia, and Canada.
  • The Asian market for gypsum and anhydrite continues to drive demand, with 36% of total world consumption and a growing demand of 3% per year. 
  • Demand for gypsum has grown along with the booming housing market. About 60 percent of customers are residential builders, the rest are commercial builders.

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