Bitmain Subsidiary Gets Green Light For US Bitcoin Mining Operation

News | April 16, 2018 By:

Chinese cryptocurrency mining hardware manufacturer Bitmain has been given approval to set up mining facilities in Walla Walla county, located in the US state of Washington.

The Port of Walla Walla, the county’s economic development agency, unanimously agreed to embark on a land lease and purchase option for 10 acres to be used for a crypto mining project by Bitmain subsidiary Ant Creek LLC. The deal was originally intended to lease Ant Creek 30 acres of land, which would result in 15-20 full-time jobs, but the option was removed from the agreement.

Ant Creek still has to agree to the terms to complete the deal. If it does, the lease will run until the end of 2018, after which the company will be given a choice to purchase the land. The company will pay approximately $4,700 per month in rent, and if it decided to buy the land, the company would need to pay $150,000. While the cost of providing drinkable water as well as fire protection would be covered by the Port of Walla Walla, Ant Creek would have to spend $2.5 million on constructing a roadway, since the land is currently inaccessible.

Port of Walla Walla commissioners said that the small scale operation will give Ant Creek a chance to establish itself and test whether or not their business has potential for expansion in the area. The commissioners added that it would also give the project time to earn the support of the public.

Walla Walla County has been chosen by Ant Creek to set up their operations because electricity in Washington state is considerably cheaper than in most places in the US. The average electricity price per kilowatt in the state is 4 cents, while the national average is 7 cents.

Walla Walla residents opposed the idea of cryptocurrency mining, citing the amount of energy the company would extract from the community. They felt that the permanent jobs promised by the project were outweighed by the fact that the operation would draw the power equivalent of 24,000 residences.

“It extracts electricity and creates wealth for the owner with no trickle down,” said local resident Robb Lincoln.

Columbia Rural Electric Association CEO Les Tell told commissioners that the membership-owned electric co-op has more than enough capacity to fulfill Ant Creek’s demand without putting the residents at risk.

“No matter what happens a year from now or five years from now, we are fully protected,” said Tell.

Elsewhere in Washington state, officials from Mason County and Chelan County both enforced a moratorium on new applications for cryptocurrency mining operations. The two counties decided to implement the freeze in order to consider the effect mining operations have on the local power grid.