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Repurposing mine tailings: Cold bonding of siliceous iron ore tailings

Minerals & Metallurgical Processing , 2016, Vol. 33, No. 1, pp. 47-52

McDonald, J.E.D.; Roache, S.C.; Kawatra, S.K.



?The formation of geopolymers from mine tailings using cold-bonding processes is known to be possible. Numerous cold-bonding methods exist, but the hydrothermal processes involving high temperatures and pressures in the presence of steam have been found to be the most ideal. This paper presents the results of successful preliminary studies to apply hydrothermal bonding processes to mine tailings agglomerates. Particle-size analysis revealed the particle size of the tailings waste to be 80 percent passing at 35 μm. The compressive strengths of the tailings pellets were shown to increase with time in the curing vessel, closely approaching the 400 lbf of standard iron ore concentrate pellets. These strengths are sufficient to allow use of the tailings pellets as aggregate materials for asphalt and cement. Additional applications may be possible, including reprocessing to extract more valuable materials and usage as agglomerated road-bed materials, backfills for building foundations, and replacements for sand and lime in cement.