Mining and mineral processing operations in Canada produce about 650 × 106 metric tons of mineral waste annually. This waste is composed of broken rock from open pits and underground mines, coarse mill rejects from screening and heavy media separation processes, and fine mill tailings from screening, magnetic separation, and flotation processes. Most wastes have limited potential for reuse because of their high impurity content or remote location. However, some are favorably located and of interest because of contained metals and minerals or inherent physical and chemical characteristics. Waste utilization is an attractive alternative to disposal because disposal costs and potential pollution problems are reduced or even eliminated and resources are conserved. Waste rock could be used as landfill, in roadbed and dam construction, as railroad ballast, as aggregate in concrete and asphalt mixes, and, for the finer sizes of waste, as construction sand, as an additive to concrete and asphalt mixes, in brick and block manufacture, in the manufacture of thermal insulation, for the recovery of valuable metals or minerals, and as mineral fillers. Examples of the commercial utilization of a number of such wastes are noted.
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