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MONTREAL, April 29 (Reuters) - Canada's Quebec province said on Monday it would maintain its existing rates for digital currency mining and will make enough energy to power an aluminium smelter available for the production of cryptocurrencies.
Quebec halted approvals for new digital currency mining projects last year so the mostly French-language province could weigh restrictions on their operations and whether to raise the rates they pay for power.
Bitmain Technologies and other companies are eyeing sites in energy-rich Canada, as digital currencies make price gains and countries like China's plan to eliminate bitcoin mining.
Quebec's energy board said in a decision it would set aside a combined 668 megawatts of hydro electric power for digital currency mining. More than half of the energy is reserved for existing projects with the reminding 300 megawatts aimed at new business.
According to the decision, Quebec will favor projects that create jobs, or investments in the province and use the energy generated through mining for other purposes like heating neighboring buildings.
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.
"We don't think we will have any trouble attracting projects," said Jonathan Cote, a spokesman for state utility Hydro Quebec. (Reporting By Allison Lampert in Montreal Editing by Alistair Bell)