A critical review on environmental implications, recycling strategies, and ecological remediation for mine tailings

  • Da-Mao Xu
  • Chang-Lin ZhanEmail author
  • Hong-Xia Liu
  • Han-Zhi Lin
Review Article


Mine tailings, generated from the extraction, processing, and utilization of mineral resources, have resulted in serious acid mine drainage (AMD) pollution. Recently, scholars are paying more attention to two alternative strategies for resource recovery and ecological reclamation of mine tailings that help to improve the current tailing management, and meanwhile reduce the negative environmental outcomes. This review suggests that the principles of geochemical evolution may provide new perspective for the future in-depth studies regarding the pollution control and risk management. Recent advances in three recycling approaches of tailing resources, termed metal recovery, agricultural fertilizer, and building materials, are further described. These recycling strategies are significantly conducive to decrease the mine tailing stocks for problematic disposal. In this regard, the future recycling approaches should be industrially applicable and technically feasible to achieve the sustainable mining operation. Finally, the current state of tailing phytoremediation technologies is also discussed, while identification and selection of the ideal plants, which is perceived to be the excellent candidates of tailing reclamation, should be the focus of future studies. Based on the findings and perspectives of this review, the present study can act as an important reference for the academic participants involved in this promising field.


Mine tailings Environmental implications Recycling strategies Phytoremediation 



The authors are very grateful to the anonymous reviewers for their revising suggestions.

Funding information

This work was financially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 41603117).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Da-Mao Xu
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Chang-Lin Zhan
    • 2
    Email author
  • Hong-Xia Liu
    • 2
  • Han-Zhi Lin
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Pollution Control and Resource Reuse, College of Environmental Science and EngineeringTongji UniversityShanghaiChina
  2. 2.Hubei Key Laboratory of Mine Environmental Pollution Control and Remediation, School of Environmental Science and EngineeringHubei Polytechnic UniversityHuangshiChina
  3. 3.State Key Laboratory of Organic Geochemistry, Guangzhou Institute of GeochemistryChinese Academy of SciencesGuangzhouChina
  4. 4.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

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