GeoMins - Steps towards the use of mine tailings in geopolymer materials: reactivity, CO2 sequestration and heavy metal stabilization

Mining industry generates high quantities of inorganic side streams, i.e. mine tailings, that are currently underutilized. This research
project aims at new knowledge enabling the use of tailings as a valuable resource for new construction materials: geopolymers.


A photo of a mine

Project information

Project duration


Funded by

Research Council of Finland - Academy Project

Funding amount

502 484 EUR

Project coordinator

University of Oulu

Contact information

Project leader

Project description

The geopolymers are developed based on tailings mineralogy and chemical composition. In addition, the process will utilize the minerals’ ability to capture carbon dioxide into their structure. The aim is to develop material with extremely low carbon dioxide emissions and simultaneous safe immobilization of harmful substances.

Disposal of mine tailings is one of the biggest environmental challenges during the mine lifetime, so new methods to store and utilize mine tailings are needed. Geopolymerization is a technology that can turn different inorganic wastes into valuable construction products. In this project, the suitability of mine tailings for geopolymer production will be studied.

This research project aims at deep scientific understanding on the topic by studying the reactivity of different minerals (olivine, amphibole and pyroxene) and their potential for geopolymerization. For the first time, the geopolymerization of mine tailings will be combined with silicate minerals’ natural tendency to capture carbon dioxide from atmosphere, which can result in cementitious material with extremely low or even negative CO2 emissions. In addition, the project generates more information about geopolymers’ ability to immobilize harmful substances.

Geopolymer technology could provide a new method for safe storage of tailings in the short term. In future, mines could produce valuable materials also from side streams: geopolymer aggregates, concrete, and composites. This way the project has a significant potential to combat global CO2 emissions if the tailings could be used instead of cement. The project is done in international collaboration with outstanding scientists of the field.