Labrador-based bitcoin miner goes bankrupt, owing taxpayers hundreds of thousands

A company that ran data processing centres in Labrador has gone bankrupt.

Great North Data hosted bitcoin mining operations and processed artificial intelligence algorithms at facilities in Labrador City and Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

According to bankruptcy documents filed late last month, the company listed $13.2 million in liabilities against just $4.6 million in assets.

The federal and provincial governments are owed some of that cash.

The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) is an unsecured creditor for $281,675.

The Newfoundland and Labrador government's Business Investment Corporation is owed $313,718. That amount is secured by Great North Data's building and land in Labrador City, and machinery and equipment.

Federal, provincial contributions in 2015 and 2016

The company received an infusion of $500,000 from ACOA in late 2015, in the form of an unconditionally repayable contribution.

ACOA officials declined to provide more details, saying specific information related to the terms and conditions of a contribution agreement — including the status of repayments — is subject to client confidentiality. 

In an emailed statement, the federal agency said officials "are in contact with the client and are closely following all developments" involving the company.

Great North Data received another $420,000 from the province between January and August 2016.

Officials in Newfoundland and Labrador's innovation department haven't yet provided additional information in response to requests from CBC News.

Website now offline

In 2017, a Hong Kong-based bitcoin mining firm sued Great North Data in Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court. That legal dispute remains unresolved.

Great North Data's website is now offline.

But an archived version notes that the company was founded in 2013, and grew "from a basement startup to a major provider of processing capacity in Atlantic Canada."

In addition to the federal and provincial funding agencies that are owed money, Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro is listed as an unsecured creditor for another $316,477.

And the Business Development Bank of Canada, a federal Crown corporation, is on the unsecured creditors' list for $225,000.

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