A Quebec-based cryptomining firm that transformed five abandoned industrial facilities in small-town Quebec into 24-7 digital currency factories has run into trouble of late thanks to noise complaints and an executive shake-up, The Canadian Press reports.
Many cryptomining ventures that expanded heartily during the crypto bull market of 2016 and 2017 have found the “crypto winter” of 2018 and 2019 very challenging.
Some say it costs around $5000 USD to mine one bitcoin, and in late 2017, bitcoins briefly retailed for $20 000 USD. The current price is around $7500 USD.
Operating in 2016 and 2017 was also advantageous because small municipalities and utility companies across North American were eager to do business with cryptomining firms but did not necessarily understand all the implications and costs.
Local officials in Quebec initially welcomed the idea of Bitfarms machinery lining the walls of an otherwise dormant metal factory, a Tupperware plant, a carpet factory, an ex-cocoa storage facility and a former hockey stick factory if this meant jobs in quiet Quebec towns.
But residents in the town of Magog River got more than they bargained for in the form of roaring noise emanating from of cooling fans now used to cool down computers in the former hockey stick plant.
Cryptomining computers work ceaselessly processing cryptocurrency transactions and mathematically competing for the chance to win a payoff of coins.
“The noise destroys the environment, destroys people’s health because of the stress,” Magog River resident Marcel Cyr told The Canadian Press. “We had peace and quiet, and we want peace and quiet to return.”
Bitfarms has promised to build a 23-meter wallet to muffle the noise, and according to Farnham, Quebec, mayor Patrick Melchior, Bitfarms did resolve noise problems in his town in 2017.
“They were very co-operative. Their goal was really not to be a bad corporate citizen…They reduced the noise considerably .. and the citizens were very satisfied. The case is closed.”
Perhaps more serious is the recent departure of Bitfarms’ millionaire co-founder Pierre-Luc Quimper. Quimper is famous in Quebec for having started his first IT company when he was just 14 years old.
Quimper did not exit alone, either. He was joined in October by vice-presidents Anthony Levesque and Louis Valois as well as head of public relations, Bahador Zabihiyan.
Quimper does remain a shareholder, however, and doesn’t seem bitter.
“We built up that great infrastructure together with the three other founders. We hired (Toronto CEO) 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,” Quimper told The Canadian Press in an email.
“When you are building a business, it’s very hard to say which vision is right and which one is wrong, and these kinds of situations are common. As one of the important shareholders, I closely follow the company and I hope it will continue to develop.”