Bitmain has applied to lease land in rural Washington, in an effort to set up a mining operation on the US mainland. The Chinese mining giant is reportedly interested in access to the cheap hydroelectric power available in the state – however, some residents are expressing concerns regarding the massive amounts of electricity needed for large-scale cryptocurrency mining.
Bitmain’s application comes through its ”Ant Creek” subsidiary. The Port of Walla Walla, which is the economic development agency in the county of Walla Walla, unanimously approved a lease and purchase option for 10 acres of land between the Wallula Gap Business Park and the Dodd Road Industrial Park. Although the authority unanimously approved the lease, they did not support a secondary option that would have allowed for the sale of a further 30 acres.
The economic development agency argued that Ant Creek should be ”given a chance to demonstrate whether the blockchain technology has legs for expansion” before additional land is leased, according to the Washington Union-Bulletin. Ant Creek has yet to officially accept the lease option, although this is in all likelihood just a mere formality.
The mining facility, once completed, will apparently provide jobs for between 25 and 35 people. However, local residents are worried over the large amounts of power the mining operations will require. Furthermore, some local citizens cited the potential lack of ”trickle down wealth” generated by Ant Creek as another concern.
Nonetheless, the crypto mining proposal meets the Walla Walla Port’s mission criteria, relating to tax and job creation, and also provides infrastructure in the area – most notably an access road which Ant Creek has agreed to finance. The ball is now in Ant Creek’s court, as the Port of Walla Walla awaits their decision on the lease option.
The Washington state has seen increased cryptocurrency mining activity lately, mainly due to its surplus of cheap and ”green” hydroelectric energy. The Mason County, also in Washington state, recently imposed a suspension on new crypto mining operations in order to fully gauge what impact such mining activities have on the local power usage.
Moreover, this follows in the footsteps of Chelan County – also in Washington – who levied a temporary ban on new crypto mining operations due to similar concerns. Likewise, equivalent action has been taken in the Canadian province of Quebec, which is also known for its cheap hydro-electrically generated energy, as the Hydro-Quebec utility firm was ordered to seize its considerations of service applications from cryptocurrency mining firms.
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