Minimisation of the waste amount

Teemu Karlsson, Geological Survey of Finland, P.O. BOX 1237, FI-70211 Kuopio, FINLAND, e-mail: teemu.karlsson(at)

Mining generates variable amounts of different types of waste material. In Finland large amounts of mining overburden, tailings and other by-products are piling up; the amount of total mineral extraction has doubled between the years 2008 and 2013 from 38.8 Mt to 79.4 Mt (Liikamaa 2014).

Figure 1. Large amounts of mining overburden, tailings and other by-products are piling up. Photo: Teemu Karlsson, GTK.

Minimisation of mine waste prior to disposal is an essential objective for the waste management in the BAT reference document on the managment of tailings and waste rocks (EC 2009) and a requirement in the current general waste legislation in Finland, as well as of the waste management directive for the extractive industries of the European Parliament and the Council (Directive 2006/21/EC) (Heikkinen et al. 2008). Also the utilisation of mine waste as a secondary raw material source has been acknowledged as an essential objective by the European Commission (EC 2013).

Methods to minimize the waste amount include:


Directive 2006/21/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 March 2006 on the management of waste from extractive industries and amending Directive 2004/35/EC – Statement by the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission. European Commission 2013. Reducing the EU’s dependency on raw materials: European innovation partnership launched. MEMO/13/92.

EC 2009. Reference document on Best Available Techniques for Management of Tailings and Waste-Rock in Mining Activities. January 2009. European Commission. 557 p. Accessed 28th November 2013

Heikkinen, P.M., Noras, P. and Salminen, R. (eds.) 2008. Mine Closure Handbook – Environmental Techniques for the Extractive Industries. Geological Survey of Finland (GTK), Technical Research Center of Finland (VTT), Outokumpu Oyj, Finnish Road Enterprise, and Soil and Water Ltd. ISBN 978-952-217-042-2. 169 p.

Liikamaa T. 2014. Tukes: Kaivosviranomaisen malminetsinnän ja kaivosteollisuuden ajankohtaiskatsaus vuodelta 2013. Vuorimiespäivät 28.3.2014