Bitcoin mining farm in Rockdale, Texas has potential to be world’s largest
The Rockdale town slogan is "Great things happen here". Maybe they will.
A new Bitmain cryptocurrency mining farm in Rockdale, Texas, has the capacity to become the world's largest crypto mining operation.
Rockdale's population plateaued in 1980 and has been in the 5,500 to 6,000 range for about 40 years now. The town was named after a nearby rock. Like much of Texas, it's generally hot and humid in summer, and cooler in winter, which is quite at odds with the preferred cool climate of most cryptocurrency mining operations.
What it does have is the remains of an Alcoa aluminium smelter, which provides the space and the power infrastructure for a mining farm. It also has a region hungry for investment and jobs in the wake of smelter and power plant closures.
This is the project that caught attention earlier this year, as the story of a hard-luck town that bet on Bitcoin and then suffered disappointment following a price slide. As such, the re-awakening of the project could present an optimistic view for any market-watchers that associate Bitcoin miner interest with price rises.
"Bitmain will be the future for developing new industry projects in Rockdale, Texas. We are excited to continue to build partnerships together," said Rockdale mayor John King.
By the numbers
The initial mining farm will be a 25MW operation, whose construction commenced in 2018.
That's enough to power somewhere between 10,000 and 25,000 homes or one cryptocurrency mining operation in Texas. The plan calls for expansion to 50MW, but the site has the capacity for over 300MW, at which point it would be the world's largest cryptocurrency mine.
"The stable and efficient energy resources in Texas are fundamental to the inevitable scale of growth for the cryptocurrency mining industry," said Bitmain Rockdale project lead Clinton Brown.
The site is owned by Alcoa while DMG Blockchain Solutions provides the hosting and management and will be working with Bitmain and Rockdale Municipal Development District to grow the team on the ground.
"This mining facility marks a major milestone in the development of the mining farm industry. We are proud to partner with Bitmain, the leading innovator in this sector," said DMG COO Sheldon Brown.
While crypto mining farms are periodically held up as a job creation opportunity for small but energy-rich communities, primarily by companies hoping to negotiate preferential tax deals, one sticking point is that no matter how you slice it, there's no valid reason to employ as many people at a crypto mining farm as an aluminium smelter.
But there's still plenty of work to be done outside the farm. Bitmain will be working with local suppliers as preferred vendors to support the ongoing construction, and beyond cryptocurrency mining, there's scope for the facility to act as a data centre for other purposes.
This is, in some ways, the story of Iceland's journey to becoming a crypto mining hub.
Aluminium smelting became an economic backbone of the energy-rich country, but over-dependence on this industry saw its fortunes fall dramatically during the GFC as demand dried up. Subsequently, crypto mining became a natural option as the nation looked for new energy-hungry ways of diversifying.
But over-exposure to Bitcoin's ups and downs isn't much healthier, so it's suggested that AI processing and other data centre functions join the party. If it hits its maximum capacity, Rockdale would be a larger mining farm than anything currently in Iceland though.
Incidentally, the Rockdale town slogan is "Great Things Happen Here".
Maybe they will.
Disclosure: The author holds BNB and BTC at the time of writing.