This review aims to understand the environmental impact that tailings produce on the land and marine ecosystem. Issues related to flora, fauna, and the environment are revised. In the first instance, the origin of the treatment and disposal of marine mining waste in Chile and other countries is studied. The importance of tailings’ valuable elements is analyzed through mineralogy, chemical composition, and oceanographic interactions. Several tailings’ treatments seek to recover valuable minerals and mitigate environmental impacts through leaching, bioleaching, and flotation methods. The analysis was complemented with the particular legislative framework for every country, highlighting those with formal regulations for the disposal of tailings in a marine environment. The available registry on flora and fauna affected by the discharge of toxic metals is explored. As a study case, the “Playa Verde” project is detailed, which recovers copper from marine tailings, and uses phytoremediation to neutralize toxic metals. Countries must regularize the disposal of marine tailings due to the significant impact on the marine ecosystem. The implementation of new technologies is necessary to recover valuable elements and reduce mining waste.

Keywords: underwater tailing dumps; environmental impact; mining waste.