Barrick took possession of the Bullfrog mine - originally discovered in 1904 by prospectors Frank ‘Shorty' Harris and Ernest ‘Ed' Cross - when it acquired Lac Minerals in 1994.
The company ran Bullfrog until 1999, terminating operations because costs had exceeded the price of gold, which was trading below US$300 an ounce.
However, the cessation of mining did not put an end to Barrick's environmental obligations. At Bullfrog, this meant managing groundwater in the mine's open pit.
While Bullfrog is located in the southwestern Nevada desert, the mine's open pit descends below the water table, causing groundwater to pool in the lower levels of the pit.
When the mine was operating, Barrick would pump this water out of the pit in accordance with...