Rogue Bitcoin Miners Face $5.6m Fine for Using Dormant Gas Well

Illegal bitcoin mines have a habit of getting caught.
Loukia Papadopoulos

In May, we brought you news of a massive bitcoin mining rig caught operating illegally in the UK. Then, last July, we told you about an illegal crypto mining farm that got busted in Ukraine. 

Now, yet another illegal crypto mining plant has been discovered — this time in Alberta, Canada. It all began when the neighbors complained of unusual and bothersome noises. 

Jeff Kocuipchyk told CBC News he first noticed the noise last fall.

"It differs every time the wind changes direction. It's just like a wave … but it's 10 times louder and 100 times more annoying," Kocuipchyk said. "It's almost like a plane engine warming up on the tarmac … it's such a racket that none of my family could sleep."

After a little investigating, the culprit behind the noise was quickly discovered and found to be a Vancouver-based data center and power firm called Link Global. 

Link Global had set up the facility to mint new tokens of the world’s biggest cryptocurrency: Bitcoin. However, the firm failed to obtain the proper planning permissions. 

Now, the company could be hit with a $5.6 million ($7.1 million CAD) fine by Alberta's Utilities Commission (AUC). 

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Link Global had a complex setup installed to mine its Bitcoin that consisted of four 1.25 MW gas generators that were pulling power from a dormant natural gas well owned by Calgary-based company MAGA Energy.

The plant was first installed in August 2020 and by fall, when it was at full capacity, it was making quite a racket. 

The AUC told Motherboard in an email that it regulates utility matters, not Bitcoin mining, and that its enforcement staff has now recommended a penalty for contraventions of such legislation.

As always, keep your eyes peeled for the next illegal Bitcoin mining fiasco. 

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