British Columbia

Bitcoin farm proposed for former B.C. sawmill site

Cryptocurrency company looks to set up supercomputers at an old sawmill site in Houston B.C.

Cryptocurrency company eyes the Bulkley Valley for expansion

MiningSky is proposing to build a bitcoin farm similar to this one in Keflavik, Iceland, in B.C.'s northern Interior. REUTERS/Jemima Kelly - S1BETOLMXKAA (Jemima Kelly/Reuters )

A northern B.C. town could soon help one company satisfy the growing appetite for bitcoins. 

MiningSky is a blockchain infrastructure company looking to build its own cryptocurrency farm in Houston, B.C. The facility would host computers that mine bitcoins by solving complicated math problems. 

The Pacific Northwest is attracting the attention of cryptocurrency companies for a number of reasons. The weather is temperate. Hydro-electric energy is plentiful. And the region is filled with plenty of space to build facilities for supercomputers.

 "The weather conditions [of northern B.C] are ideal," said MiningSky vice-president of New Business Robert Mullaney. "It's cold enough where these [computers] run that you don't really need a cooling system. The northwest is already retrofitted for it."

Bitcoin mining uses a tremendous amount of energy to run computers that solve complex math problems in exchange for units of the cryptocurrency. REUTERS/Jemima Kelly - S1BETOLMXMAA (Jemima Kelly/Reuters)

Weather isn't the only appealing factor.

Northern B.C. is dotted with shutdown lumber mills. The shuttered Houston Forest Products can supply the company with access to electricity.

And MiningSky needs a lot of it. The company said it will need at least 10 megawatts of power. 

More than just availability, Northern B.C. provides cheap energy. 

Mullaney said that energy costs are much lower in Northern B.C. compared to California and Washington State — two states that have jumped on the cryptocurrency farm craze.

"There is a lot of energy that is just not being used ...  And the best way to use this is on these supercomputers," said Mullaney. 

About the Author

George Baker

Associate Producer

George Baker is a radio producer for CBC Daybreak North based out of Prince Rupert in northwest British Columbia. Twitter: @cbcbakergeorget