Beneficiation of industrial wastes, such as mine tailings (MTs), through development of alternative eco-friendly geopolymer binders for construction composites offers a twofold environmental benefit, as it reduces the demand for cement and it increases the sustainability of industrial processes by creating a value-added product from an industrial byproduct. While MTs have the requisite composition for use as a geopolymer precursor, they are often low-reactive. This study explored the effect of Class C Fly Ash (FAc) on the geopolymerization of low-reactive gold MTs. A 10 M sodium hydroxide (NaOH) solution was used as the alkaline activator with four different concentrations of FAc (5, 10, 15 and 20 wt.%). The results indicated that the combination of FAc with the low-reactive gold MTs improved the physicochemical stability of the final geopolymerized samples, with a 95–120% increase in compressive strength, compared to the geopolymer samples of only low-reactive gold MTs. Although some of the strength improvement could be attributed to geopolymerization of the FAc itself, the presence of the FAc also improved the reactivity of the MTs, increasing the geopolymer production of the MTs. This study documents the positive effects of the FAc on gold MTs with low-calcium content and their conversion into sustainable inorganic composite geopolymers for the construction field.
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