The challenges of the reuse of tailings and overburden

Governance and management of tailings


Lais Resende


Vale S.A. and Federal University of State of Minas Gerais

The tailings are waste from mineral processing operations. The tailings of iron ore processing are classified into sandy tailings and sludge. Already the overburden are showing significant levels of useful mineral. Both iron ore`s waste have in your composition phyllosilicates/clay that indicates the potential for use in niche markets as paving and cement. According to several studies, there are various technologies in bench and pilot levels that could be used on a large scale but there is not an economic environment, tax, regulatory and tax set. Many of these technologies are associated with the reuse of tailings and overburden in construction. All these factors influence for that so many initiatives remain in search formats and cannot advance to the new business format. There is no way to set goals of reuse of this waste, as already occurs in China, if there is not a fiscal, tax and economic structure to support such measures. The way to foster and ensure that reuse of tailings and overburden is an incentive for promoting a culture of circular economy that would allow the emergence of an ecosystem between the private, public and Government sectors with the objective of accelerating and subsidize the entire network of reuse of this waste. The closure of the mine could be the tool used to ensure and boost this ecosystem of reutilization to align it with the vocation of the area of the mining law. Following this model, the end of the mining activity could provide a financial return to the local population, a more effective environmental compensation and a reduction in costs related to the closure of the mine. In this study are shown how the Vale is working in the reuse of tailings and overburden.

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