Bitfarms crypto mining operations face troubles amid internal upheaval

Bitfarms have been going through an upheaval of late as Pierre-Luc Quimper, its president and co-founder, quit in October. Along with Quimper, VPs Anthony Levesque and Louis Valois, and public relations head Bahador Zabihiyan also departed the company.

Quimper, in an emailed statement to The Canadian Press, said: “We built up that great infrastructure together with the three other founders. We hired Wes to help implement our vision. At some point, my vision as an entrepreneur and businessman was different from Wes’ vision, who has a traditional banking background.”

Wes Fulford, Bitfarms’ Toronto-based CEO, said any talk of conflict with Wes is just “business gossip.” But his portrayal of Quimper’s leaving suggested a clash of personalities. “He’s never had a boss. He’s never had a board of directors,” Fulford said of his former business partner, Quimper. “He’s been involved in growing small companies. We are now a much larger, professionally traded organization, and you can read into that what you like.”

Along with the departures comes news that residents living near the company’s operations in Sherbrooke, Quebec, are complaining of the noise originating from its operations is unbearable.

To address the concerns of its neighbors and restore peace to local neighborhoods, the firm proposed to build a 23-meter wall outside its Sherbrooke factory. The company would renovate inside the factory to help muffle the sound from the ventilators. Residents along the Magog River remains skeptical. 

Marcel Cyr, who lives across the river from Bitfarms, told The Canadian Press in a recent phone interview, “They say they are acting in good faith, and, in the beginning, we believed them. But we no longer believe them. How can we?” Despite complaints, the company has only increased its capacity and announced a further expansion.

“We expect significant improvement versus what the residents are allegedly complaining about today,” Fulford said, adding that the increased capacity planned for Sherbrooke would not result in more noise.

Sherbrooke Councilor Marc Denault said had the city known about the noise problem, it would not have let Bitfarm move into the abandoned hockey stick factory. “And I’m convinced Bitfarms wouldn’t have chosen that area either,” Denault said in an interview.

Per Councilor Denault, Bitfarms had shown a willingness to fix the noise problem.

Cyr says he, along with many other residents, want Bitfarms to stop mining for cryptocurrency until they can find a resolution. “The noise destroys the environment, destroys people’s health because of the stress,” he said. “We had peace and quiet, and we want peace and quiet to return.” The machines consume so much power that large ventilators are needed night and day to keep the factories cool, so they don’t overheat

The arrangement between Sherbrooke and Bitfarms secured the company 98 megawatts of power. Sherbrooke officials say the city stands to collect roughly $3 million a year from Bitfarms’ use of electricity.

The company does have a solid record of addressing noise complaints. Mayor Patrick Melchior, of Farnham, Quebec, also home to a Bitfarms operation, said residents in his town had similar noise issues in 2017.

“Bitfarm were very co-operative. Their goal was really not to be a bad corporate citizen,” Melchior said in an interview. “They reduced the noise considerably .. and the citizens were very satisfied. The case is closed.”

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