A Vancouver mining company has begun paying its Canada-based contractors in Bitcoin.

Alix Resources — a company that actually mines the ground, not Bitcoins — announced in November that it would pay contractor Ridge Resources Ltd. in the digital currency.

Alix Resources CEO Michael England cited the currency’s booming popularity as a reason for getting into that space.

On that note, the company also plans to open a Bitcoin exchange. It has come to an agreement with a private software company, which will license out the exchange that Alix Resource will administer. The company looks to launch the exchange in January.

“We want to take advantage of this niche, this explosive sector,” he told the Financial Post.

Alix Resources’ current projects include a gold mine in Arizona, a tungsten mine in British Columbia, and a gold mine in Alaska.

Ridge Resources Ltd. is doing exploratory work at the Canadian tungsten mine. Ridge will continue to quote its work in Canadian dollars, then Alix will convert that price into Bitcoins for payment.

Alix Resources, which is listed on the TSX Venture Exchange and the Frankfurt Exchange, saw its shares rise 33 percent after the announcement. The company has a market value of right around 2 million CAD.

England himself began his career in public markets 30 years ago, trading on the Vancouver Stock Exchange.

The Canadian government has thus far been hands off in regard to Bitcoin. Jordan Kelly, CEO of Las Vegas-based RoboCoin, said the government tends to treat Bitcoins as a commodity. Consequently, there has been a great deal of activity and innovation there.

The country’s first Bitcoin ATM, built by RoboCoin, was installed in a Vancouver coffee shop earlier this year. The Vancouver Sun reported that $100,000 of Canadian dollars was traded through that particular machine over a one-week period.

Still, the currency has its detractors.

In the same Financial Post piece, Red Sky Capital Management Ltd. managing partner Brian Huen said from Toronto: “I’m surprised someone’s willing to take payment through Bitcoins. I certainly wouldn’t take that currency for services I’m rendering.”

Alix Resources CEO England, however, has indicated that his company could pivot and focus entirely on Bitcoins, depending on how its upcoming projects go.

Could a company worth 2 million CAD go from mining gold to mining Bitcoins in 2014? Keep an eye on this space.