Gypsum began its formation on Earth 600 million years ago. Before that, sea levels were much higher than they are today. As climate changed and sea levels lowered, sea water on what is now dry land evaporated, leaving gypsum deposits behind. Today, processed gypsum, or hydrous calcium sulfate, composes several important products.

Open-Pit Quarrying
In some areas of the world, gypsum deposits exist near the ground's surface. These surface deposits are extracted most efficiently via open-pit quarrying. Quarry workers remove the soil and any rock cover to reach the gypsum deposit. The workers then blast or drill the gypsum loose.

Underground Mining

Mining allows procurement of gypsum far underground. Miners drill shafts into the ground until they reach a gypsum deposit. Then, the miners extract the gypsum, creating a "room" in the process. Finally, miners remove the gypsum from the mine with the help of machinery.

Transported to Processing Plant
Upon removal, trucks transport gypsum to the processing plant. The plant produces unformed gypsum material for product manufacturers or produces the end-product on-site. Trucks dump loads of raw gypsum rock at the plant in piles until the plant is ready for them.

A vibrating pan feeder moves the raw gypsum material into the processing plant. The vibrating pan feeder consists of a conveyor belt that shakes to evenly distribute the gypsum rock onto the conveyor surface. The conveyor feeds the rock into a crusher. The crusher machine pulverizes the rock into pieces measuring 2 inches or less.

Partial Drying
The small gypsum rocks enter a drying receptacle. The receptacle spins and heats the rocks evenly. The rock dryer transforms the gypsum into what is called a "hemi-hydrate."

A machine with rotating rollers crushes the gypsum rock. Plaster of Paris is composed of this hemi-hydrate crushed material.

The calcination process heats the gypsum to high temperatures. This transforms the hemi-hydrate into an anhydrite. The anhydrite form of gypsum provides further strength in plaster usage. In some processing, the manufacturer adds water to reshape the gypsum into a desired form.

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