Unexpected closure of the operations at an abandoned mine in the Lefke-Xeros area of Cyprus has resulted in an enormous environmental degradation and health hazards in the locality. In order to explore the possible ways for the rehabilitation of the abandoned mine site as well as to suggest alternative waste management approaches, gold mine tailings of Lefke-Xeros area are incorporated in cement mortars in this paper. Experimental measures such as compressive strength, water penetration depth, porosity, resistance to freeze/thaw cycling and carbonation depth of cement mortars incorporating gold tailings, carried out over the period of 9 months, have shown to be improved significantly. The release of heavy metals of cement mixtures incorporating gold tailings were substantially lower than the limits of US Code of Regulations. Cost effectiveness analysis also validated the efficient use of gold tailings both as cement and sand replacement in these mortars. Particularly, it is shown in the paper that the use of 30% gold tailings as a binder replacement resulted in a 22% decrease in the CO2 emissions arises from cement manufacturing. It must be emphasized that the use of gold tailings does not only result in a considerable reduction in CO2 emissions originates from cement production but also plays a crucial role in sustaining a healthy ecosystem of the immediate environment after the closure of mine sites and helps maintaining the economic growth of the locality. (C) 2019 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.