Former Soviet Metal Construction Plant Is Now Mining Bitcoin

The largest data center in the former Soviet Union grants miners cheap energy when mining in the former world’s largest aluminum smelter.

The largest data center in the former Soviet Union, BitRiver, opened about a year ago in the Siberian city of Bratsk and most of its clients use the facility to mine Bitcoin (BTC), Bloomberg reported on Nov. 24.

The data center allows cryptocurrency miners to take advantage of cheap energy in what once used to be the world’s largest aluminum smelter. The plant was built by the USSR in the 1960s with the still-active hydropower plant to power its operations.

Cold climate, cheap energy

The data center’s location also benefits from a cold climate, allowing mining hardware to work at higher efficiency rates while cutting cooling costs.

Billionaire and president of the world's second-largest aluminum company Rusal, Oleg Deripaska, reportedly had the idea of building the data center about five years ago and directed his company Rusal alongside aluminum and power producer En+ to repurpose the facilities. 

BitRiver told Cointelegraph in an email that Deripaska’s En+ is currently a strategic partner. En+ supplies up to 100 megawatts of power to the facility, enough energy to sustain 100,000 homes.

The plant is one of the largest hydropower plants in Russia and the data center allows it to constantly sell excess energy and diversify its client base.

According to Bloomberg, Russian law does not recognize cryptocurrency mining. Because of this legal gray area, Bitriver does not directly engage in mining, but only provides equipment and technical services to its clients — including from Japan, China and the United States — operating like any other data center.

Bitcoin miners unfazed by BTC price drop

Bitcoin and the overall cryptocurrency market saw a significant drop in price earlier this week, as BTC briefly fell under $7,000. Still, miners are seemingly keen to continue boosting their capacity.

“There is NO miner capitulation,” commented Bitcoin entrepreneur Alistair Milne on Sunday following a rise in network hash rate and expected difficulty hike. He continued: 

“They are acutely aware of the upcoming halving and are apparently unphased by the recent dip.”

As Cointelegraph reported earlier this week, German Bitcoin mining firm Northern Bitcoin has entered a merger agreement with United States-based competitor Whinstone to jointly build what will supposedly be the world’s largest mining farm.

Update: the original version of this article incorrectly stated that Oleg Deripaska is the biggest shareholder in Bitriver. The article has since been corrected to remove this unverified claim. 

Publication date: 
11/24/2019 - 12:04
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