Low-carbon cement made from mining sidestream

The Finnish firm’s Geoprime® solution converts several previously unused high-volume industrial side streams into a low-carbon substitute for cement.

Materials technology firm Betolar has been granted a patent for a method for converting mining waste material into a reinforcing binder. In the future, the binder can be utilised commercially. Hence it creates value for the waste material now generating costs.

In the mining industry, the recovery and enrichment of metals generate large amounts of metallic effluent, sludge, and dregs, which are in many ways cumbersome to handle and risky for environmental safety. The treatment and storage of waste materials in mining areas also require massive storage pools.

The method developed and patented by Betolar heat-treats the waste material generated in the bioleaching process, causing it to become a reactive substance with a binder potential. It can be made into a reinforcing binder by a simple treatment to solidify and stabilize the end-use waste material.

“Our invention relates to a method by which wastewater, sludge and dregs can be treated and utilized, for example, in a mining area. Waste materials, such as gypsum sludge can also be used in other construction applications which will be of great value to Betolar’s business in the future,” says Juha Leppänen, Betolar’s Chief Innovation Officer.

The advantage of the patented solution is that the fractions and precipitates formed in the treatment of wastewater can be solidified simply and cost-effectively. Hardened materials can be stored in piles and holes. The use of such above-ground storage and disposal sites allows for space and cost savings. Above all, it is safer for the environment.

Placing liquid and sludge waste materials in tanks incurs costs throughout the life cycle of the tanks. Storage requires substantial investment in the storage pools as well as continuous monitoring and maintenance of the condition of the pools. The economic benefits arise from the reduction in investment and maintenance costs associated with the pools. In addition, value is created for the binder used elsewhere.