Canadian Provinces Take Action to Limit Bitcoin Mining: Regulations and Environmental Impacts

• In late 2022, Hydro-Quebec proposed to stop selling cheap power to cryptocurrency miners.
• Manitoba announced plans to halt any new electric grid connections for cryptocurrency mining operations.
• British Columbia made headlines for its efforts to stop mining growth to assess the environmental impacts of cryptocurrency mining.

In May 2021, the Chinese government abruptly banned bitcoin mining, causing miners around the world to reconsider their operations. North America, in particular, became the leading hub of bitcoin mining activity, with the United States and Canada both taking a leading role in the industry. However, in late 2022, several Canadian provinces began to take action to limit miners’ ability to operate in their jurisdictions.

In November 2022, Hydro-Quebec, the state-run utility in Quebec, proposed that the Canada Energy Regulator suspend the allocation of 270 megawatts requested by cryptocurrency miners. This would effectively halt any new miners from connecting to the grid and operating in the province. While the 37 currently-operating mining facilities in the province would not be affected, the proposal would make it harder for new miners to set up shop.

In the same month, Manitoba announced plans to suspend any new electric grid connections for cryptocurrency mining operations for 18 months. This suspension was meant to allow for a review of the externalities from the mining industry’s energy demands. The announcement indicated that the 17 different operators who had requested new grid connections would be denied until the review was completed.

Finally, British Columbia made headlines in December 2022 for its efforts to stop mining growth and assess the environmental impacts of cryptocurrency mining. The province had already imposed a tax on miners in the summer of 2022, but now it was taking further steps to limit the industry’s growth.

These actions by Canadian provinces serve as a reminder of the potential risks associated with bitcoin mining. While the industry is extremely lucrative, it also faces numerous regulatory and environmental challenges. As provinces continue to grapple with the implications of bitcoin mining, miners must be prepared to face additional restrictions in the future.