Tailings and soils

CIM Bulletin, Vol. 75, No. 837, 1982

G.K. RUTHERFORD Department of Geography, and G.W. VanLoon, Department of Chemistry, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario

Tailings in the mining and smelting industry are reject products of the refining process which are deemed too deficient in native ore to warrant smelting. They are essentially finely ground rock materials which have been moved by alluvial suspension from the site of crushing to a deposit site. It is realized that components of flotation chemicals used in specific gravity separation may become part of the tailings and also that sewage sludge or other materials may be added at some stage to the tailing deposits.It would seem, then, that as tailings have a similar parent material to soils, namely rocks, and that they have also been comminuted to similar size fractions, they would react in similar ways to soils. There is an increasing body of evidence and experience which both supports and negates this supposition. It is the object of this paper to point out similarities and contrasts between these two materials which may influence the vegetation and rehabilitation of tailings.
Keywords: Tailings, Soils, Environmental control, Vegetation, Drainage, Nutrients, Sudbury area.