Background: Reuse of waste materials present in the technosphere, such as the metal mining
tailings is becoming a more economical and energy-efficient method for obtaining the raw materials
than the classical mining. Number of patents are presenting methods for tailings recycling, often in
construction industry and metallurgy. At the same time, world market for metallic nanomaterials is rapidly
increasing with numerous new applications and these two subjects should be connected.
Methods: Paper presents the hypothesis that fine sludge from the metal mining tailings could be dominant
source of the raw material for the nanotechnology. The idea is based on the fact that most of the
usual publications present methodologies for synthesis of nanomaterials only from high-quality chemicals
which is often expensive and unsustainable. Proposition here says, that it would be more economical
to use the tailings as one of the technospheric wastes, directly by extracting the metal ions, selectively
precipitating their cations and subsequently using them in nanotechnologies. Arguments are given
by cross-comparison of the literature and patents on iron, bauxite, lead/zinc, copper, tailings and also
the extraction of rare earth elements from tailing resources.
Results: Metal mining tailings are shown to be an emerging subject in various research papers and patents
together with other secondary raw materials.
Conclusions: Use of the metal mining tailings as the resources in nanotechnology, is a large energysaving
potential. Taking advantage of this readily available technospheric waste which contains mostly
micrometer particles, should contribute also to the zero-metal waste goals.