University of Oulu

Niu, H., Helser, J., Corfe, I. J., Kuva, J., Butcher, A. R., Cappuyns, V., Kinnunen, P., & Illikainen, M. (2022). Incorporation of bioleached sulfidic mine tailings in one-part alkali-activated blast furnace slag mortar. Construction and Building Materials, 333, 127195.

Incorporation of bioleached sulfidic mine tailings in one-part alkali-activated blast furnace slag mortar

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Author: Niu, He1; Helser, Jillian2,3; Corfe, Ian J.4;
Organizations: 1Fibre and Particle Engineering Research Unit, University of Oulu, P.O. Box 4300, FI-90570 Oulu, Finland
2Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, KU Leuven, 3001 Leuven, Belgium
3Research Center for Economics and Corporate Sustainability (CEDON), KU Leuven, 1000 Brussels, Belgium
4Geological Survey of Finland, GTK, 02150 Espoo, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 9.2 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Elsevier, 2022
Publish Date: 2022-08-18


Sulfidic mine tailings are potential waste materials from mining and mineral processing, and they can contain a high content of sulfur and metal(loid)s, even after bioleaching. Due to the large amount of tailings waste from historical mining, it is crucial to find alternative methods for utilizing such waste rather than permanent storage in tailings impoundments. One-part alkali-activated slag mortars are promising co-binder systems for the recycling of sulfidic mine tailings thanks to their practicability, easy transportation, and user-friendly production. In this work, up to 50 wt% mine tailings were incorporated into alkali-activated blast furnace slag mortars. C-(N)-A-S-H gels were formed in all final samples with hydrotalcite zeolites. Tailings hardly participate in alkali activation, but they do have a considerable influence on physical and chemical properties. The 20 wt% tailings-containing sample showed the highest compressive strength of 91.1 MPa after 90 days of curing. The results of isothermal calorimetry indicate that incrementally increasing the percentage of tailings promotes the pre-induction reaction but hinders the slag hydration process. In addition, the results of X-ray microcomputed tomography showed higher porosity when the mortar contains more tailings; thus, the sample with 10 wt% mine tailings showed the lowest porosity. According to the European Union batch leaching test, up to 20 wt% bioleached sulfidic mine tailings can be valorized in a co-binder system while remaining below the nonhazardous waste thresholds.

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Series: Construction & building materials
ISSN: 0950-0618
ISSN-E: 1879-0526
ISSN-L: 0950-0618
Volume: 333
Article number: 127195
DOI: 10.1016/j.conbuildmat.2022.127195
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 216 Materials engineering
Funding: This work was financially supported by the European Union’s Framework Program for Research and Innovation Horizon 2020 under Grant Agreement No. 812580 (Project “MSCA-ETN SULTAN,” The X-ray µCT equipment at the Geological Survey of Finland was funded by the Academy of Finland through the RAMI infrastructure project (293109).
EU Grant Number: (812580) SULTAN - European Training Network for the remediation and reprocessing of sulfidic mining waste sites
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 293109
Detailed Information: 293109 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
Copyright information: © 2022 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (