This quiet settlement, just east of a kink in the Nicolet River, thrived on a valuable mineral hidden in the rocks beneath it for more than 110 years. Mining was so important to the local economy that the town adopted its name – welcome to Asbestos.
Home to the world’s largest asbestos mine until 2012, the town was changed forever when the poisonous nature of the mineral that gave it its name and identity forced the mine to close for good.
There have been attempts in the past to make use of this mining waste. Mine tailings were used in the town of Thetford Mines to provide extra grip on the roads during winter, for instance, but the practice was swiftly stopped amid concerns over its impact on air quality.
Now deprived of its main source of income, Asbestos, has had to find other ways to support its population. An hour to the south, in the university town of Sherbrooke, one of the province’s largest Bitcoin mining operations has popped up, to the tune of $250 million Canadian ($195 million US), and the cryptocurrency firm BitFarms is expanding across southern Quebec.
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