Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 24, Issue 1, pp 73–91 | Cite as

Recovery and reuse of sludge from active and passive treatment of mine drainage-impacted waters: a review

  • Tsiverihasina V. Rakotonimaro
  • Carmen Mihaela Neculita
  • Bruno Bussière
  • Mostafa Benzaazoua
  • Gérald J. Zagury
Review Article


The treatment of mine drainage-impacted waters generates considerable amounts of sludge, which raises several concerns, such as storage and disposal, stability, and potential social and environmental impacts. To alleviate the storage and management costs, as well as to give the mine sludge a second life, recovery and reuse have recently become interesting options. In this review, different recovery and reuse options of sludge originating from active and passive treatment of mine drainage are identified and thoroughly discussed, based on available laboratory and field studies. The most valuable products presently recovered from the mine sludge are the iron oxy-hydroxides (ochre). Other by-products include metals, elemental sulfur, and calcium carbonate. Mine sludge reuse includes the removal of contaminants, such as As, P, dye, and rare earth elements. Mine sludge can also be reused as stabilizer for contaminated soil, as fertilizer in agriculture/horticulture, as substitute material in construction, as cover over tailings for acid mine drainage prevention and control, as material to sequester carbon dioxide, and in cement and pigment industries. The review also stresses out some of the current challenges and research needs. Finally, in order to move forward, studies are needed to better estimate the contribution of sludge recovery/reuse to the overall costs of mine water treatment.


Mine drainage Mine sludge Ochre Recovery Reuse 



The present study was supported by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), and the industrial partners of RIME-UQAT-Polytechnique (Agnico Eagle, Canadian Malartic Mine, Iamgold Corporation, Raglan Mine-Glencore, and Rio Tinto). The authors gratefully acknowledge the assistance of Professors John W. Molson and Vincent Cloutier, as well as of Dr. Robin Potvin during the manuscript preparation.

Supplementary material

11356_2016_7733_MOESM1_ESM.docx (95 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 94.6 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tsiverihasina V. Rakotonimaro
    • 1
  • Carmen Mihaela Neculita
    • 1
  • Bruno Bussière
    • 1
  • Mostafa Benzaazoua
    • 1
  • Gérald J. Zagury
    • 2
  1. 1.Research Institute on Mines and Environment (RIME)University of Quebec in Abitibi-Temiscamingue (UQAT)Rouyn-NorandaCanada
  2. 2.RIME, Department of Civil, Geological, and Mineral EngineeringPolytechnique MontrealMontrealCanada

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