Materials used can be broadly separated into two categories; raw materials (the ore from which we extract gold, silver and copper) and process materials which are materials used in the production of gold and copper but are not part of our final product. In the following section we report on 100 percent of materials at our wholly-owned operations and our joint ventures, where we are the operator.
Raw materials: Barrick mines gold, silver and copper ore from both underground and open pit mines. The ore is processed on site by heap leaching or milling and chemical processing, to produce gold and copper concentrate, gold doré, and copper cathodes. In 2010, we processed over 160 million metric tons of ore at our mines.
Process materials: We use consumables and reagents in the extraction of the metals from the ores we mine. Key consumables in 2010 included fuels (discussed below in Energy), along with 153,400 metric tons of explosives, 32.3 million kilograms of cyanide, 1.1 million liters of nitric acid, 14.9 million kilograms of caustic, 155.3 million kilograms of lime and 57,300 metric tonnes of grinding media. These numbers are slightly lower than last year for two reasons: we have decided not to report on the Round Mountain and Marigold joint ventures mines because we do not operate these properties, and because the Golden Sunlight mine did not operate its mill in 2010.
The process materials above cannot be recycled. They are consumed in mining and processing applications; therefore we buy them new. We do recycle a variety of materials from our mine sites, depending on the region. These materials include, among others, paper and cardboard, scrap steel and other metals, used oil, fluorescent lights, aluminum cans, metal drums, tires and batteries.
Materials stewardship involves environmental responsibility through both the mining process and product delivery.
Barrick's Environmental Policy and Environmental Management System Standard require that an environmental management program be in place at each site to ensure that our processes do not harm the environment and that we can mitigate any negative environmental impacts that might occur. Our main products are gold, silver and copper ore which are shipped to refiners or wholesalers. As our products are not harmful to the environment and are not sold in the retail market, our product stewardship is focused on retaining qualified shippers.
Mercury is a naturally occurring element which is present at some operations in the ore that we process. As a result, pollution controls at these sites collect mercury as a by-product. There are potential environmental and human health risks associated with mercury and it requires effective management. It is our practice to ship mercury to a reputable refiner (Bethlehem Apparatus in the United States). For mercury shipments, strict handling, packaging and transportation procedures are in place to protect both people and the environment. In 2010, we produced 88.4 metric tons of elemental mercury from nine operations; 96 percent of that amount came from three mines, one in North America and two in in South America. Rapidly changing regulations regarding the export and transportation of mercury may soon require new ways of handling mercury sourced from our sites. We anticipate that, in the future, mercury will be contained in secure storage under Barrick's control or in government repositories if available.
We are also committed to reducing mercury emissions to air. See Mercury Air Emissions for more information.