Bitcoin mining now reaches the Arctic – Latest News, Breaking News, Top News Headlines

The Siberian city of Norilsk is best known for being the home of the mining giant MMC Norilsk Nickel PJSC.

With a population of 180,000, Norilsk is one of the largest human settlements beyond the Polar Circle and can only be reached by plane or boat.

However, the city may soon be famous for a different kind of mining: it is now home to the first crypto farm in the Arctic to produce new bitcoins.

BitCluster, the Russian owner of the facility, is already planning an expansion after starting operations late last year.

Bitcoin in the ArcticBitcoin in the ArcticAndrey Rudakov / Bloomberg

A bitcoin sculpture is installed at the BitCluster mining farm and is made from scrap metal.

Bitcoin mining is the process by which transactions are validated on the blockchain (or blockchain), with miners receiving a reward of 6.25 bitcoins for each block they mine.

The data center capacity is already being contracted and will serve clients around the world, including Switzerland, the United States and Japan, BitCluster co-founder Vitaly Borschenko said in an interview.

Norilsk city The city of Norilsk Andrey Rudakov / Bloomberg

Norilsk has temperatures as low as -40 degrees Celsius, which makes it one of the coldest places on the planet. It is so remote that the locals call the rest of Russia “the continent”. Temperatures are a big part of the appeal of bitcoin mining, as the two biggest running costs of the process are cooling and electricity.

BitClusterBitCluster Andrey Rudakov / Bloomberg

BitCluster opened the new data center near a former Stalin-era nickel plant that was closed by Norilsk Nickel in 2016.

Norilsk Nickel’s presence in the area is a big part of the appeal, because its power unit will supply the facility with cheap electricity. “The place is perfect for crypto mining – it’s cold and the area has a power supply that is not connected to any of Russia’s power grids,” Borschenko said.

Bitcoin in the ArcticBitcoin in the ArcticAndrey Rudakov / Bloomberg

Four old fruit and juice shipping containers have been repurposed to house crypto mining rigs and can hold up to 360 machines like the Antminer S19. In total, the site has nine containers of different sizes.

Polar nightsPolar Nights Andrey Rudakov / Bloomberg

While Norilsk Nickel has nothing to do with the data center, its power unit supplies electricity to the crypto mining facility, Borschenko said. BitCluster will be the city’s second largest power consumer after Norilsk Nickel.

Even with annual average temperatures of -10 degrees Celsius, the BitCluster facility still needs ventilation and air circulation to cool the machines.

Bitcoin in the ArcticBitcoin in the ArcticAndrey Rudakov / Bloomberg

Towers that supply electricity to the farm from Norilsk Nickel. BitCluster customers only pay 2.75 rubles ($ 0.04) per kilowatt hour, one of the cheapest rates in the world. Norilsk Nickel’s power unit uses primarily gas or hydroelectric power to produce electricity.

Electricity pylons in NorilskPower towers in Norilsk Source: Andrey Rudakov / Bloomberg

Crypto mining platforms at the Norilsk facility. BitCluster has 5,000 platforms on its farm.

Crypto platformsCrypto Platforms Source: Andrey Rudakov / Bloomberg

Currently, the engineers work on a rotating basis, as BitCluster brings its experienced staff to Norilsk from its other farms in the Ivanov and Siberian Angarsk and Bratsk region. The move allows staff to avoid having to permanently travel to the Arctic Circle.

BitCluster started hiring local Norilsk employees, who have been trained under the supervision of experienced staff. The farm currently has 15 employees on site, both local and from outside Norilsk.

BitCluster workersBitCluster workers Source: Andrey Rudakov / Bloomberg

The BitCluster crypto farm is expected to double its capacity to 31 megawatts this year. At full capacity, you could mine up to six bitcoins per day on average.

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