A review on different methods of activating tailings to improve their cementitious property as cemented paste and reusability

Alieh Saedi, Ahmad Jamshidi-Zanjani, Ahmad Khodadadi Darban
Journal of Environmental Management 2020 September 15, 270: 110881
Over the past few decades, as demand for minerals and metals has increased, the amount and volume of wastes and tailings has also increased dramatically. The management and reuse of mineral wastes and tailings not only help protect the environment but also are properly associated with economic benefits. As a result, mineral processing wastes disposal and storage has become a global issue. Along with the use of cemented paste as a backfill in underground spaces, the use of mineral processing wastes in the construction industry or as a substitute for cement is one of the new approaches to mineral tailings management. It is worth noting that the cement industry is facing crucial environmental issues. Portland cement production in industries increases the greenhouse effect and creates acidic rain. In fact, it generates greenhouse gases directly through carbon dioxide emission during clinker production as well as through energy consumption. In addition, the increasing stringency of environmental regulations has forced the mining industries to make efforts in order to manage tailings. One of the new and attractive techniques to reduce environmental problems and to obtain economic and technological benefits is to increase the use of tailings, for example, the use of mineral tailings as a substitute for cement. It is important to note that mineral tailings are not normally cemented and are accompanied by reduced strength of cement and concrete mortars; thus, there is a need for methods to increase their cementitious properties. Activation is one of the methods improving cementitious/pozzolanic properties of mineral tailings. Therefore, the present review study aimed to investigate the activation methods to improve the properties of tailings resulted from minerals processing in order to be used as a replacement for cement, to reduce the pollution caused by cement production, as well as to reduce the volume of unused mineral tailings. Different physical, chemical, and thermal activation methods were examined, and criticisms and research gaps of previous studies were presented.

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