Digital currency mining comes to Arctic Circle

Russia-based digital currency mining firm BitCluster announced its new BitCluster Nord data center is now officially open. 

The new mining farm is located above the Arctic Circle in Taimyr Peninsula in the Norilsk industrial district. It was first announced in August and is billed as the northernmost data center in the world.

BitCluster chose the location because of the cold climate and cheap electrical cost. BitCluster obtained a favorable power agreement with the Norilsk-Taimyr Energy Company, enabling it to avoid peak-hour price fee hikes and keep machines turned on longer. 

The facility is a modular data center designed to accommodate modern ASIC devices. Additionally, a unique canopy was constructed for the cold corridor, in which warm air is mixed to prevent snow from falling and guard the equipment from excessive cooling and severe blizzards.

The digital currency mining farm will occupy the land previously used by a nickel smelting plant owned by Nornickel, the Russian mining & smelting corporation. The company closed the nickel plant down because of environmental concerns. 

BitCluster Nord will provide 11.2 megawatts of power for mining digital currencies with plans to increase the capacity to 31 megawatts by next year. The first batch of 150 machines of Antminers S19 was delivered to the facility and soon installed on the shelves.

The farm would work as a “mining hotel,” implying that it will host application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs) for customers, charging them for electricity consumption, according to a recent online report. The company spokesperson Tatyana Arestova was quoted saying the first client would be from China. 

BitCluster is currently working on the logistics to relocate that undisclosed client’s ASIC mining machines from Sichuan province to Norilsk, where the electricity price is less than 4 cents per kilowatt/hour. “On Oct. 24, the rainy season in China ends,” Arestova said. “So they will have their electricity tariffs raised. Chinese miners will start moving around, looking for better tariffs.” 

The company could have a small fleet of its own ASICs in the venue, but it will be a minor part of the entire farm Arestova maintained.

BitCluster’s plans got the blessing from Norilsk’s local government. Norilsk’s local newspaper Zapolyarnaya Pravda quotes Alexander Pestryakov, the Norilsk city council chairman, stating the mining farm’s launch is “only the beginning of the digital reality of Norilsk.” 

“The construction of data centers in the Arctic will attract large investments there, which will undoubtedly become a driver of regional development,” Pestryakov is reported to have said.

See also: TAAL’s Jerry Chan presentation at CoinGeek Live on The Shift from Bitcoin “Miners” to “Transaction Processors”.

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