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China’s Bitmain Technologies is eyeing bitcoin mining sites in Quebec, a company spokesperson told Reuters, as expectations of a potential Chinese crackdown on cryptocurrency mining make the energy-rich province an attractive alternative.

China has grown into one of the world’s biggest sources of cryptocurrency mining but there are signs Beijing is increasing scrutiny of the sector’s players and may ask local authorities to regulate their power use.

Bitmain Technologies, operator of some of the largest mining farms in the country, is among several companies looking to expand overseas.

Bitmain spokesperson Nishant Sharma said in an email on Friday that the company was looking at sites in Quebec and is in talks with regional power authorities in the province.

It is also planning to expand in Switzerland.

China shutting down cryptocurrency mines

Bitcoin mining consumes large quantities of energy because it uses computers to solve complex math puzzles to validate transactions in the cryptocurrency, which are written to the blockchain, or digital ledger.

The first miner to solve the problem is rewarded in bitcoin and the transaction is added to the blockchain.

China Bitcoin Shutdown

A staff member checks a bitcoin mining computer at the bitcoin mining company Landminers in southwestern China’s Chongqing Municipality, in 2013. Last September, Chinese authorities ordered Beijing-based cryptocurrency exchanges to halt trading. (Chinatopix via AP)

While Beijing has not issued any official edict on the bitcoin mines, two Chinese miners told Reuters that local authorities had grown more unwilling to allow expansion and had started to shut down some mines in late 2017, as China clamped down on cryptocurrencies.

Last September, Chinese authorities banned so-called initial coin offerings and ordered Beijing-based cryptocurrency exchanges to halt trading.

“We, and from what I understand many of our peers, are already making plans to go overseas,” said Li Wei, chief executive of ZQMiner, a Wuhan-based company that sells bitcoin mining equipment and has mines in three Chinese provinces.

Flurry of interest in Quebec

Globally, regulators are increasingly voicing concerns about cryptocurrencies, which are not backed by any central bank, because of their volatility and worries about risks to investors.

China, which has strict capital controls, is also worried that cryptocurrencies could facilitate illegal fund flows and breed financial risks.

Hydro Quebec described a potential sales pipeline of around 30 large cryptocurrency miners after a campaign by the public utility to attract data centres to the province triggered a flurry of interest from bitcoin miners in 2017.

“Of the world’s top five largest blockchain players, we have at least three or four,” David Vincent, director of business development at Hydro Quebec distribution, said in an interview on Wednesday.

Quebec a place for ‘green bitcoin’

Stephane Paquet, a vice-president of Montreal International, which promotes foreign investment in the province’s largest city, has called Quebec a place for “green bitcoin.”

According to Hydro Quebec, the province has an energy surplus equivalent to 100 terawatt hours over 10 years. One terawatt hour powers 60,000 homes in Quebec during a year.

Neither Hydro Quebec nor Montreal International would divulge names of interested miners.

Vincent said companies are eyeing operations from about 20 megawatts, the size of a data centre, to sites as large as 300 megawatts, about the size of a small aluminum smelter. He expects some of the large companies to begin operations in Quebec this year and in early 2019.

Large energy supply required

Bitmain’s spokesperson said that Bitmain has been mining in Canada since 2016, but did not say where.

The challenge for miners is finding existing facilities in Quebec that already have buildings and other infrastructure in place to use the large energy supply required for cryptocurrency mining.

Hydro Quebec 20160621

Hydro Quebec offers relatively low electricity rates. Cryptocurrency mining has high energy demands. (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)

A new facility would take about a year to be operational.

“We have the energy available,” said Eric Filion, customer vice-president for Hydro Quebec’s distribution division. “It’s a question of finding land and buildings quickly.”

Low electricity rates

Hydro Quebec offers some of the lowest electricity rates in North America.

Customers would have to assume other start-up costs, Filion said. 

Textiles and pulp and paper factories are particularly attractive to cryptocurrency mining companies.

PM5

Resolute Forest Products’ Thunder Bay pulp mill is seen in 2015. The Montreal-based company has been contacted by cryptocurrency companies about possibly sharing their existing production sites. (Heather Kitching/CBC)

Alain Bourdages, a company vice-president at Montreal-based Resolute Forest Products Inc, said by phone that the company has been contacted by cryptocurrency companies about possibly sharing their existing production sites, or ones that are no longer in use.

“We are looking at this prudently,” he said. “It’s an interesting opportunity that could generate value.”

Manitoba also attractive

In Manitoba, Manitoba Hydro has fielded more than 100 inquiries from cryptocurrency miners in the past three months about specific sites, a company spokesperson said.

The interest includes North American brokers who represent Chinese investors, attracted by Manitoba’s cheap power and potential reduced cooling requirements, spokesperson Bruce Owen said.

It is working with two large-scale cryptocurrency operations that want to set up in Manitoba, he said.

Manitoba’s power rates may soon rise, however.

Manitoba Hydro is asking the province’s utilities board to approve a rate increase of 7.9 percent across the board, effective April 1.

That is far larger than utility rate changes proposed last year in other provinces, including 0.7 per cent in Quebec, according to Manitoba Hydro data.

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Edmonton Alberta News Headlines

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Edmonton /ˈɛdməntən/ (About this sound listen) is the capital city of the Canadian province of Alberta. Edmonton is on the North Saskatchewan River and is the centre of the Edmonton Metropolitan Region, which is surrounded by Alberta’s central region. The city anchors the north end of what Statistics Canada defines as the “Calgary–Edmonton Corridor”.

The city had a population of 932,546 in 2016, making it Alberta’s second-largest city and Canada’s fifth-largest municipality.[5] Also in 2016, Edmonton had a metropolitan population of 1,321,426, making it the sixth-largest census metropolitan area (CMA) in Canada. Edmonton is North America’s northernmost city that has a metropolitan population over one million. A resident of Edmonton is known as an Edmontonian.

Edmonton’s historic growth has been facilitated through the absorption of five adjacent urban municipalities (Strathcona, North Edmonton, West Edmonton, Beverly and Jasper Place) and a series of annexations ending in 1982.[ Known as the “Gateway to the North”, the city is a staging point for large-scale oil sands projects occurring in northern Alberta and large-scale diamond mining operations in the Northwest Territories.

Edmonton is a cultural, governmental and educational centre. It hosts a year-round slate of festivals, reflected in the nickname “Canada’s Festival City”. It is home to North America’s largest mall, West Edmonton Mall (the world’s largest mall from 1981 until 2004), and Fort Edmonton Park, Canada’s largest living history museum.

History
Further information: History of Edmonton and Timeline of Edmonton history

The earliest known inhabitants settled in the area that is now Edmonton around 3,000 BC and perhaps as early as 12,000 BC, when an ice-free corridor opened as the last glacial period ended and timber, water, and wildlife became available in the region.[20]

In 1754, Anthony Henday, an explorer for the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC), may have been the first European to enter the Edmonton area. His expeditions across the Canadian Prairies were mainly to seek contact with the aboriginal population for establishing the fur trade, as competition was fierce between the Hudson’s Bay Company and the North West Company. By 1795, Fort Edmonton was established on the river’s north bank as a major trading post for the Hudson’s Bay Company. The new fort’s name was suggested by John Peter Pruden after Edmonton, London, the home town of both the HBC deputy governor Sir James Winter Lake, and Pruden.

In 1876, Treaty 6, which includes what is now Edmonton, was signed between the Aboriginal peoples in Canada (or First Nations) and Queen Victoria as Queen of Canada, as part of the Numbered Treaties of Canada. The agreement includes the Plains and Woods Cree, Assiniboine, and other band governments of First Nations at Fort Carlton, Fort Pitt and Battle River. The area covered by the treaty represents most of the central area of the current provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta.

The coming of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) to southern Alberta in 1885 helped the Edmonton economy, and the 1891 building of the Calgary and Edmonton (C&E) Railway resulted in the emergence of a railway townsite (South Edmonton/Strathcona) on the river’s south side, across from Edmonton. The arrival of the CPR and the C&E Railway helped bring settlers and entrepreneurs from eastern Canada, Europe, U.S. and other parts of the world. The Edmonton area’s fertile soil and cheap land attracted settlers, further establishing Edmonton as a major regional commercial and agricultural centre. Some people participating in the Klondike Gold Rush passed through South Edmonton/Strathcona in 1897. Strathcona was North America’s northernmost railway point, but travel to the Klondike was still very difficult for the “Klondikers”, and a majority of them took a steamship north to the Yukon from Vancouver, British Columbia.
Jasper Avenue, ca. 1907

Incorporated as a town in 1892 with a population of 700 and then as a city in 1904 with a population of 8,350, Edmonton became the capital of Alberta when the province was formed a year later, on September 1, 1905. In November 1905, the Canadian Northern Railway (CNR) arrived in Edmonton, accelerating growth.

During the early 1900s, Edmonton’s rapid growth led to speculation in real estate. In 1912, Edmonton amalgamated with the City of Strathcona, south of the North Saskatchewan River; as a result, the city extended south of the North Saskatchewan River for the first time.

Just prior to World War I, the boom ended, and the city’s population declined from more than 72,000 in 1914 to less than 54,000 only two years later. Many impoverished families moved to subsistence farms outside the city, while others fled to greener pastures in other provinces. Recruitment to the Canadian army during the war also contributed to the drop in population. Afterwards, the city slowly recovered in population and economy during the 1920s and 1930s and took off again during and after World War II.

The Edmonton City Centre Airport opened in 1929,[33] becoming Canada’s first licensed airfield.Originally named Blatchford Field in honour of former mayor Kenny Blatchford, pioneering aviators such as Wilfrid R. “Wop” May and Max Ward used Blatchford Field as a major base for distributing mail, food, and medicine to Northern Canada; hence Edmonton’s emergence as the “Gateway to the North”. World War II saw Edmonton become a major base for the construction of the Alaska Highway and the Northwest Staging Route.

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Originally posted 2018-01-12 02:40:16. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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