Towards circular economy in mining: Opportunities and bottlenecks for tailings valorization

Päivi H.M. Kinnunen (Corresponding Author), Anna H. Kaksonen

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

    150 Citations (Scopus)


    Current management of mining waste is based on linear economy thinking. However, the use of mining waste as a raw material resource can be one solution to the limited metal supply. The objective of this study was to fill in the knowledge gaps of business opportunities, drivers, needs and barriers for tailings valorization, since the transformation towards a circular economy needs advancements in understanding these factors. Based on a workshop and theme interviews, the utilization of tailings in the mining industry is currently in its infancy, but there is clear raw material potential for the future. The handling of sidestreams at mine sites depends on mine lifecycle. The identified opportunities and drivers were categorized under the circular economy mindset, technological, environmental, institutional and economic drivers. The needs were new value chains, technology development, the decrease in the amount of waste, stability, taxation, and predictability of regulation. Challenges and bottlenecks were categorized under new value chains, technological, environmental, institutional, economic and knowledge bottlenecks. The identified needs and barriers need to be properly addressed to speed up the transformation towards the circular economy in the mining industry.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)153-160
    Number of pages8
    JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
    Publication statusPublished - 16 Apr 2019
    MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


    • Circular economy
    • Mining
    • Tailings
    • Valorization
    • Waste


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