The unexpected closure of the mine processing area of Lefke-Xeros generated the largest environmental disaster in the recent history of Northern Cyprus. The mining area, formed the biggest industry on the island in 1950s, was unpredictably closed and left all mine tailings and equipment behind without any preservation towards the environmental remediation nor sustainable rehabilitation for the locality. Substantial increase in the cost of energy supply, determination to decrease CO2 emissions and to reduce the consumption of natural materials on the other hand, are the major challenges in construction practice. The paper is investigating the consequences of dewatering by means of recycling copper mine tailings in mortars both for the sustainable development of construction materials and for the socioeconomic recovery of Lefke-Xeros area of Cyprus. The degree of dewatering as a consequence of the substrate/mortar interaction on the mechanical and physical properties of cement and lime mortars containing copper tailings are reported in the paper. Physical measurements provided an insight into the actual effect of dewatering on the resistance of freezing and thawing action of mortars containing copper tailings. The use of copper tailings and therefore the degree of dewatering have shown to play a substantial role in the decrease in thermal conductivity and increase in cost efficiency of these mortars in construction practice. The results reported in this paper significantly contribute in the sustainable development of construction materials through the use of mine tailings to support environmental sustainability and socio-economic development of Lefke-Xeros area of Cyprus. (C) 2020 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.