Illegal Bitcoin Operation in Alberta Facing More Than $7M in Fines
A Canadian crypto mine could be facing up to $7 million in fines after setting up a power plant without permission.
Alberta’s provincial utility commission has suggested fining an illegal cryptocurrency mine upwards of $7 million for operating without the proper permissions. According to a report from the CBC, the company responsible failed to notify neighbors, Sturgeon county officials, or the Alberta Utilities Commission about its intentions. That company, Link Global, went behind Alberta’s back and set up a quartet of 1.25 MW generators in 2020. These generators were set up to draw power from an unused natural gas source that is owned by MAGA Energy in Calgary. The power was then used to handle the massive power needs of a mining operation.
The mine started to gain attention in the community due to the noise created by the gas generators. Eventually, Link Global was forced to close in late August by the province’s utility commission. Initially, the company responded with criticism for the jobs that will be lost if the oil and gas operation was to go unused. Eventually, Stephen Jenkins, CEO of Link Global, admitted that the snafu was on him and that the project had not gone as planned. “It’s my fault. I take full blame for it. We did not consult with residents,” Jenkins said. He added that when complaints began rolling in, the company sent teams around to measure decibel levels in the area and shut down temporarily based on the results. Attempts to counteract the noise such as a wall of straw bales and an upgraded exhaust system.
Jenkins added that if they are forced to close again, “we’ll just shut it down; close the plant off, and it will sit there again.”
Massive fines incoming
Despite complying with the noise issues, the major problem with Link Global was its failure to file the proper paperwork for permission to operate in the first place. Now, Alberta’s provincial utility commission is asking for a fine of more than $7.1 million. On top of the mine that was shut down due to noise, the company also opened one in Kirkwall that did not meet AUC conditions either. A third site, in Westlock, remains compliant.
AUC’s enforcement team reports that the Sturgeon plant was up and running for a total of 364 days, and the Kirkwall for 426. Neither had proper approval for operating. The team has argued that Link Global should pay an “economic disgorgement,” of around $2 million, for the loss of electricity. An additional fine of more than $5 million for “economic gains from mining bitcoin,” was also requested by the AUC. Other penalties could total up to $100,000.
According to a statement from the AUC, “Link Global received a significant economic benefit by immediately commencing operations at both power plants without taking any of the measures required to receive approval from the Commission or to qualify for an exemption.”
Jenkins claims that the company is working to file a submission in response to the request. Jenkins also confirmed that the company is still trying to expand in the area and has plans to launch three more 10MW mining facilities in Alberta. The CEO adds that the proper steps will be taken this time to operate legally. Steps, Jenkins claims, the company was unaware of before.
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