China’s bitcoin miner exodus

by crypto journalist

Because miners at scale compete in a low-margin industry, where their only variable cost is typically energy, they are incentivized to migrate to the world’s cheapest sources of power. 

“Every Western mining host I know has had their phones ringing off the hook,” said Carter. “Chinese miners or miners that were domiciled in China are looking to Central Asia, Eastern Europe, the U.S., and Northern Europe.”

One likely destination is China’s next-door neighbor, Kazakhstan. The country’s coal mines provide a cheap and abundant energy supply. It also helps that Kazakhstan has a more lax attitude to building, which bodes well for miners who need to construct physical installations in a short period of time. 

Didar Bekbauov runs Xive, a company that provides hosting services to international miners. Xive also sells the specialized equipment needed for mining. 

Bekbauov says that he’s stopped counting the number of Chinese miners who have called him to ask about relocation options, ranging from operations with 15 rigs to thousands. 

“One miner told us that only government electricity plants have restricted mining and private ones will continue to service miners,” Bekbauov told CNBC. 

“But most of the electricity is generated by government power plants, so miners will have to move. That makes them uncertain and desperate to find other locations,” he said.

Whether Kazakhstan is a destination or simply a stopover on a longer migration west remains to be seen. 

Arvanaghi is bullish on North America and thinks the hashrate there will grow over the next few months.

“Texas not only has the cheapest electricity in the U.S. but some of the cheapest in the globe,” he said. “It’s also very easy to start up a mining company…if you have $30 million, $40 million, you can be a premier miner in the United States.”

Wyoming has also trended toward being pro-bitcoin and could be another mining destination, according to Arvanaghi.

There are, however, a few major limitations to the U.S. becoming a global mining destination.

For one, the lead time to build the actual physical infrastructure necessary to host miners is likely six to nine months, Carter told CNBC. “The U.S. probably can’t be as nimble as other countries in terms of onshoring these stray miners,” he said.

The move logistics may also prove difficult. There is a shipping container shortage, thanks to the tailwinds of the Covid pandemic. 

But perhaps the biggest question is the reliability of the Texas power grid. A storm that devastated large swaths of the state in 2020 has reignited a debate over whether Texas should winter-proof its systems, a potentially costly project that might affect taxes or other fees for those looking to tap into the state’s power grid. More recently, ERCOT, the organization that operates Texas’ grid, asked consumers to conserve energy amid what officials called an unusual number of “forced generation outages” and an upcoming heat wave.

This content was originally published here.

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