Mining company Alix Resources has decided to start paying contractors with bitcoin for services in Canada.

The company plans to pay a contractor called Ridge Resources Ltd in bitcoins for exploratory services.

“The growth of popularity in the bitcoin space as an alternate method of payment has led Alix to step into this very exciting market. This transaction is the first of its kind within the Canadian junior mining sector and positions Alix as a participant at an early stage in the global bitcoin marketplace,” said Alix Resources CEO Michael England.

Canada’s government has taken a wait-and-see approach in regards to regulation of distributed virtual currencies, which is enabling them to flourish in the country.

Interest in bitcoin is currently at an all time high, as the currency’s price has hit record levels – it is now, at the time of writing, $405 per bitcoin.

Ironically enough, the process to create bitcoins is called “mining”. This is a where a distributed network of computers connected to the internet solve mathematical problems known as proof of work to confirm bitcoin network transactions.

Alix Resources, based in Vancouver, British Columbia, is also planning to get into the bitcoin exchange business. The company has entered into an agreement with a private software vendor to license a bitcoin exchange, which will be administered by Alix. The firm’s management anticipates the exchange will launch in early January.

Bitcoin exchanges are marketplaces where investors can buy bitcoins. Bitcoin exchanges have been under heavy scrutiny as of late following a number of problems.

A Czech Republic-based exchange was recently hacked, a Hong Kong-based exchange completely disappeared along with $4.1m and a Dutch exchange was used by identity thieves to launder money.

bitcoin charts imageThe top five bitcoin exchanges based on fiat traded. Mt. Gox is listed twice for its ranking exchanging USD (#2) as well as EUR (#5). Source: Bitcoin Charts

Canada, and Vancouver in particular, has seen a high level of interest in virtual currencies such as bitcoin.

Bitcoiniacs, a Vancouver based bitcoin business that operates an in-person storefront exchange for bitcoin has formed a partnership with Robocoin to bring the world’s first bitcoin ATM to a coffee shop in downtown Vancouver.

“In Canada, bitcoin is more of a commodity. The government’s thinking is: Let’s get a good understanding of what’s going on before making any decisions,” Jordan Kelley, the CEO of Robocoin, told CoinDesk at the ATM’s launch last month.

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