Research Reports

Properties and Aggregate Potential of Coarse Taconite Tailings from Five Minnesota Taconite Operations

Principal Investigator:

Lawrence M Zanko, Julie A Oreskovich, Harlan B Niles

December 2003

Report no. Mn/DOT 2004-06

Projects: Properties and Aggregate Potential of Coarse Taconite Tailings

Topics: Environment, Pavements

The goal of Zanko's study is to evaluate the technical and economic viability of using coarse taconite tailings for aggregate purposes in road construction. Making use of this mining byproduct makes environmental sense because it maximizes the use of a resource that has already been mined and crushed. The report presents well-documented, technical data from five sites relating geological, mineralogical, and chemical properties to performance when used in road construction. A series of aggregate tests demonstrated the suitability and durability of coarse tailings as a component of bituminous asphalt. In addition, state-of-the-art testing methods showed that none of the samples contained asbestos. In terms of the marketing potential, low-cost rail transportation and a workable distribution plan would be key for expanding the use of coarse taconite tailings as aggregate in markets beyond Northeastern Minnesota.

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