The Big Sky Country state of Montana keeps raking them in. For the second time this month, a mining operation is announcing its moving to the Butte area. Power Block Coin LLC is reportedly plunking down a quarter of billion dollars to upgrade existing facilities to mine the world’s most popular cryptocurrency, bitcoin.
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$250 Million Bitcoin Mining Campus Calls Butte, Montana Home
The Montana Standard reports, “A company called Power Block Coin, LLC, plans to invest $251 million in capital improvements over 36 months in Montana Connections, a special tax district west of Butte.”
“Earlier this year, we started receiving inquiries from blockchain miners interested in low cost electrical capacity,” explained Aaron Tilton, CEO of Blue Castle Holdings, the parent company of Power Block Coin, LLC. “Not just any electrical capacity, all electricity is not created equal. Blockchain mining power has to be globally cost competitive, readily available and quickly scalable. It also has to have the right power load profile, accompanied with dependable existing infrastructure, at the appropriate locations,” Mr. Tilton said at the end of last year.
Blue Castle is a Utah-based holding company best known for its work in nuclear power plant energy development. Moving into the cryptocurrency mining space “was a great fit for us, we are already doing this type of development. We are currently selling the right kind of low cost installed capacity to miners via bilateral contracts. Therefore, a good portion of the power can be put to use before our peer-to-peer, spot market Power Block Exchange platform goes live in the 2nd quarter of 2018. 500MWe is roughly enough power to supply the global Ethereum network or about one fifth of the global Bitcoin network,” Mr. Tilton insisted.
That Q2 forecast appears to be on track, as Butte-Silver commissioners voted to develop data centers in what’s known as Montana Connections, described as “a special tax finance district west of Butte.” Over two years and two phases, the hope is online 135 megawatts of power through infrastructure such as a substation and up to “200 separate units that would use large amounts of power, which would be transmitted through the new substation. Those units could be anything from larger warehouse buildings to small shipping containers,” according to The Montana Standard.
Montana’s Quiet Bitcoin Mining Revolution
Not all locals are exactly excited about bitcoin mining centers growing in their city. Worries about officials getting carried away with a fad, handing over valuable land to an industry where the product can jump wildly in price – not to mention nearly every financial expert has accused crypto of being a scam of one kind or another.
For his part Mr. Tilton responded, “Bitcoin is the fastest growing segment of cryptocurrency. If it tanks, the same processors can be used for medical research or AI (artificial intelligence).” He also suggested nearly 50 people will eventually be employed at the campus, with salaries averaging roughly $40,000.
Mr. Tilton also said whatever extra energy generated could be sold to local businesses, and that the first data center, all things considered, should be up and running by Fall of this year. A county administrator doubled down on Mr. Tilton’s optimism: “Power Block Coin has to invest their money, build a substation, they’ll be a big power user. It’s not just a bitcoin facility. We’re not buying into bitcoin. They’re an aggregator, a campus to allow additional users to come in and use power.”
Whatever the eventual outcome, Montana is quietly growing a crypto mining empire of sorts. As reported in these pages mere weeks ago, a nearby Montana community sealed a $75 million mining deal with Crypto Watt, LLC to resurrect 53 acres. That followed “Project Spokane, LLC launched its site near Missoula. It’s already one of the largest energy consumers in the region, housing a 20 megawatt facility, employing at least 25 locals.” This will be the third such operation, each one larger than the next, in two years.
What do you think of more mining data centers opening? Let us know in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Pixabay, Power Block.
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Author: C. Edward Kelso