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Crypto cowboys welcome bitcoin mining giants

Crypto cowboys welcome bitcoin mining giants

Last updated 12th Apr 2022
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Rockdale, Texas, is the new home of two giant Bitcoin mining firms thanks to crypto-friendly politicians, cheap electricity, and infrastructure ready for repurposing.

The two major Bitcoin miners, Bitdeer and Riot Blockchain, have set up shop in the small rural Texan town of 5,600 people. Bitdeer broke off from Bitmain, a Chinese Bitcoin mining giant, while Riot Blockchain is one of America’s largest publicly traded mining companies. 

The rivals are only four-tenths of a mile apart and are practically neighbors. They both share a property formerly occupied by Alcoa, previously the largest aluminum manufacturer globally. However, according to CNBC, that’s where their similarities end. 

Riot Blockchain, which acquired Whinstone US, the single most extensive Bitcoin mining and hosting facility in May, thrives on transparency. Its doors are always open to the media, while Bitdeer chooses to remain mysterious and aloof and is not very keen on visitors. 

Rockdale looks like any other classic rural American town. It’s located just an hour northeast of Austin and has various rolling mills, hay bales, pastures of green grass, and a Walmart. However, it exhibits all the characteristics of an industrial miner’s dream home to the more discerning eye. 

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Rockdale’s attractiveness

Rockdale features long, wide strips of land that host abandoned industrial infrastructure ready to be repurposed. The politicians are crypto-friendly, and the electricity prices are dirt cheap, thanks to the deregulated Texas grid. 

The Texas Electric Reliability Council (ERCOT) operates the Texas power grid. It’s a non-profit organization, and consumers are free to choose between providers. Competing power providers typically translates to low rates, and this is a good thing for miners. 

John King, Rockdale’s Mayor, describes the arrangement between ERCOT and miners as mutually beneficial and straightforward. Since 2008, Alcoa started shutting down operations resulting in energy wastage until cryptocurrency miners came along. 

The miners can now use the power that would otherwise be wasted while simultaneously functioning as an interruptible load. This means they can switch off all their machines within a few seconds’ notice when the grid needs the extra power. 

Miners are also flexible to fluctuations in power prices and supply and, unlike an aluminum smelter, can deal with outages without significant financial damage.  

Lawmakers push for more Bitcoin mining in Texas

Lawmakers in Texas are pushing for the state to embrace Bitcoin mining further. Apart from boosting the economy and providing much-needed opportunities, Senator Ted Cruz described it as an excellent way to capture natural gas currently flared in the state. 

Cruz argued that instead of burning natural gas, it should be used to mine Bitcoin, and this would greatly help the environment by reducing carbon emissions.

Walter Akolo

Walter Akolo

Walter is a writer from Nairobi, Kenya. He covers the latest news on the cryptocurrency market and blockchain industry. Walter has a decade of experience as a writer.