Potassium Aluminate Geopolymerisation of Acidic Gold Mine Tailings

Conference paper
Part of the Sustainable Civil Infrastructures book series (SUCI)


Acidic gold mine tailings were alkaline activated using KOH. The effect of potassium aluminate (KA) on the strength and durability of the geopolymers was investigated. A 2.8 KA:KOH geopolymer had a UCS of 18.10 MPa after curing for 5 days at 100 °C. There was an increase in UCS with an increase in loading of KA up to a ratio of 2.8. Beyond the KA:KOH ratio of 2.8, there was a 48% drop in UCS due to excess K+ ions in the system which resulted in the loss of charge balance of the system leading to reduction of UCS. It is worth mentioning that the KA:KOH ratio of 2.8 represented a Si/Al ratio of 1.02. This study showed that KA activation of acidic gold mine tailings is an attractive route to stabilise/solidify hazardous tailing material. Though there is use of elevated temperature to achieve high strength for the KA based geopolymer, this pales in comparison to energy requirements of cement manufacturing and clay brick firing.


Gold mine tailings Geopolymers Alkaline activation Toxicity leaching characteristic procedure Durability 


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Civil Engineering ScienceUniversity of JohannesburgJohannesburgSouth Africa
  2. 2.Department of Chemical EngineeringUniversity of JohannesburgJohannesburgSouth Africa

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