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Circular economy landfills for temporary storage and treatment of mineral-rich wastes

Sapsford, Devin J. ORCID:, Stewart, Douglas I., Sinnett, Dannielle E., Burke, Ian T., Cleall, Peter J. ORCID:, Harbottle, Michael J. ORCID:, Mayes, Will, Owen, Nia, Sardo, Ana Margarida and Weightman, Andrew ORCID: 2023. Circular economy landfills for temporary storage and treatment of mineral-rich wastes. Waste and Resource Management 176 (2) , pp. 77-93. 10.1680/jwarm.22.00008

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Many countries face serious strategic challenges with the future supply of both aggregates and critical elements. Yet, at the same time, they must sustainably manage continued multimillion tonne annual arisings of mineral-dominated wastes from mining and industry. In an antithesis of Circular Economy principles, these wastes continue to be landfilled despite often comprising valuable components, such as critical metals, soil macronutrients and mineral components which sequester atmospheric CO2. In this paper, the authors aim to introduce a new concept for value recovery from mineral-rich wastes where materials are temporarily stored and cleaned in landfill-like repositories designed to be mined later. The time in storage is utilised for remediating contaminated materials and separating and concentrating valuable components. It is proposed that this could be achieved through engineering the repository to accelerate “lithomimetic” processes, i.e. those mimicking natural supergene processes responsible for the formation of secondary ores. This paper summarises the concept and justifications and outlines fundamental aspects of how this new concept might be applied to the design of future repositories. The proposed concept aims to end the current “linear” landfilling of mineral-rich wastes in favour of reuse as aggregates and ores.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Engineering
Publisher: ICE Publishing
ISSN: 1747-6526
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 13 February 2023
Date of Acceptance: 27 January 2023
Last Modified: 08 Nov 2023 04:02

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