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Circular economy landfills for temporary storage and treatment of mineral-rich wastes

Sapsford, Devin J.; Stewart, Douglas I.; Sinnett, Dannielle E.; Burke, Ian T.; Cleall, Peter J.; Harbottle, Michael J.; Mayes, Will; Owen, Nia; Sardo, Ana Margarida; Weightman, Andrew


Devin J. Sapsford

Douglas I. Stewart

Dannielle E. Sinnett

Ian T. Burke

Peter J. Cleall

Michael J. Harbottle

Nia Owen

Ana Margarida Sardo

Andrew Weightman


Many countries face serious strategic challenges with the future supply of both aggregates and critical elements. Yet, at the same time, they must sustainably manage continued multimillion tonne annual arisings of mineral-dominated wastes from mining and industry. In an antithesis of Circular Economy principles, these wastes continue to be landfilled despite often comprising valuable components, such as critical metals, soil macronutrients and mineral components which sequester atmospheric CO2. In this paper, the authors aim to introduce a new concept for value recovery from mineral-rich wastes where materials are temporarily stored and cleaned in landfill-like repositories designed to be mined later. The time in storage is utilised for remediating contaminated materials and separating and concentrating valuable components. It is proposed that this could be achieved through engineering the repository to accelerate “lithomimetic” processes, i.e. those mimicking natural supergene processes responsible for the formation of secondary ores. This paper summarises the concept and justifications and outlines fundamental aspects of how this new concept might be applied to the design of future repositories. The proposed concept aims to end the current “linear” landfilling of mineral-rich wastes in favour of reuse as aggregates and ores.


Sapsford, D. J., Stewart, D. I., Sinnett, D. E., Burke, I. T., Cleall, P. J., Harbottle, M. J., …Weightman, A. (in press). Circular economy landfills for temporary storage and treatment of mineral-rich wastes. Proceedings of the ICE - Waste and Resource Management,

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 16, 2023
Online Publication Date Jan 27, 2023
Deposit Date Jan 28, 2023
Publicly Available Date Jan 28, 2024
Journal Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers - Waste and Resource Management
Print ISSN 1747-6526
Electronic ISSN 1747-6534
Publisher ICE Publishing
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Keywords Waste management & disposal; Waste valorisation; Sustainability; Remediation; Recycled material; Leaching; Landfills; Industrial wastes
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