is a naturally occurring, inexpensive ore that has been mined
around the world for thousands of years. Its principal use is
in the manufacture of drywall or wallboard. Over the past sixty
years, gypsum wallboard has emerged to become the most widely
used construction material for interior walls in homes and offices.
Domestic housing and construction starts rose early in 2002,
but leveled out and declined slightly during some later months
of the year. The net result was a small overall gypsum production
increase for the year. Demand for gypsum depends principally
on the strength of the construction industry—particularly
in the United States, where more than 95 percent of the gypsum
consumed is used for wallboard products, building plasters,
and the manufacture of Portland cement. .