Business

Steve Kaaru

Bitfarms crypto mining reviving the economy of small Canadian towns

Cryptocurrency mining is a hazard to the environment; this has been the narrative that many skeptics have spread across the world. In Canada, one cryptocurrency mining firm is trying to write a new narrative, and reviving the economy of some towns while at it.

Bitfarms has been in operation since November 2017, right before the prices of most cryptos skyrocketed to record highs. In that time, it has strived to set itself apart from other crypto mining firms, both by its vertically integrated business model and by ensuring that its energy use doesn’t contribute to the existing crypto mining stereotypes.

The company, which is listed in the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange in Israel, has been doing things a little bit different. While most mining firms rush to build multi-million dollar facilities, Bitfarms took a different approach. The firm is rehabilitating abandoned factories in Quebec which emptied out following the decline of the province’s manufacturing industry. They include a former Tupperware factory in Cowansville, a former cocoa storage facility in St. Hyancinthe and an old carpet factory in Farnham.

In doing so, the company is bringing a new lease of life in a province that has experienced a decline in its manufacturing industry. And the province has welcomed the company.

Quebec has always produced surplus electricity. During winter, cities across Quebec purchase enough electricity to satisfy their demands. However, for the rest of the year, there’s surplus electricity that no one seems to utilize. Quebec has been urging the cities to come up with ways to utilize the electricity and with the arrival of Bitfarms, the search came to an end. Bitfarms inked a deal that sees Sherbrooke, one of the cities in Quebec, sell the firm 98 megawatts of electricity during peak season.

Bitfarms operates 16,500 machines which combine to provide over 220 peta hash per second (PH/s). In 2018, the company generated $31.6 million in revenue, with $10.3 million in gross profit. However, with an operating loss of $16.5 million, the firm didn’t manage to generate a net profit.

Despite the setback, Bitfarms is creating a new narrative for an industry that’s been battered severally in the past. Many governments have ordered crypto miners to cease operations in their jurisdictions, citing the intense energy use. Last month, China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) drafted a proposal that defined the industry as undesirable. The draft proposed that crypto mining should be discontinued in the future.

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