British Columbia

B.C. suspends new cryptocurrency mining requests over power, environmental concerns

The province says it is putting an 18-month pause on allowing new requests for cryptocurrency operations so it can better understand the industry.

Province says it is putting an 18-month pause in effort to assess impact of operations

Large-scale cryptocurrency mining operations use huge amounts of power to generate value. (Qilai Shen/Bloomberg)

B.C.'s provincial government says it won't be taking new requests to hook up cryptocurrency mining operations to the electrical grid for 18 months.

The pause is aimed at giving the government time to assess how the industry is affecting the province's economic and environmental goals.

It follows a similar move made by Manitoba earlier this year in response to concerns that cryptocurrency operations have a high environmental toll by pulling in massive amounts of electricity, with little economic payoff.

"Cryptocurrency mining consumes massive amounts of electricity to run and cool banks of high-powered computers 24/7/365, while creating very few jobs in the local economy," Minister of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation Josie Osborne said in a written statement.

The technology underlying cryptocurrency involves computers making complex calculations, which is a major power drain.

While some people have set up personal mining operations in their homes, larger operations take up huge amounts of space and power.

The province says there are currently 21 applications for new mining operations that, if allowed to proceed, would consume approximately 1,403 megawatts of energy, equivalent to about 570,000 homes or 2.1 million electric vehicles.

All of these requests have now been suspended.

The province says B.C. Hydro currently provides electricity to seven cryptocurrency mining operations.


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