Bitcoin mining has been conducted in some odd locations around the world over the years, from a Chinese school to a Russian nuclear facility, but no one has tried mining it in an actual mine, that is until now. Northern Bitcoin, a German-based company, has begun using a disused metal mine to unearth cryptocurrencies, and has so far met with great success.
The Lefdal mine, on Norway’s west coast, ceased traditional mining operations in 2007 and was left abandoned before being repurposed as a data center and reopening in 2017. Since being reopened it has served computer giants like IBM, while Northern Bitcoin has set up shop and started mining Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash.
Cheap and Green
Cryptocurrency mining is notorious for its energy use, so trying to find energy-efficient methods of doing it are a top propriety for mining companies. Cheap energy in China has led to a huge concentration of miners there, but increased energy prices have seen mining farms move to cooler climates such as Iceland and Canada. The Lefdal Mine however offers a perfect storm of Bitcoin mining conditions – cooling is provided by the nearby fjord waters, while hydroelectric and wind power generates the electricity required to operate the mining machines. It is for this reason that Northern Bitcoin can claim to produce some of the cheapest Bitcoin on the planet, saying it can mine one bitcoin for as little as $2,700, $400 less than nearest rival China.
At current prices, its average income per Bitcoin is $7,700, representing a $1,200 profit on each one. When running at full capacity, the Lefdal Mine operation hopes to be churning out 100 Bitcoin per day.
Location, Location, Location
Given that Bitcoin’s energy use made the national news in October, any advancements in the use of renewable energy are a welcome development. According to recent research, one dollar’s worth of Bitcoin takes about 17 megajoules of energy to mine, compared with four, five, and seven megajoules for copper, gold, and platinum.
Mining equipment leader Bitmain recently announced a set of new more energy-efficient Antminer S15 and T15 miners, but replacing mining equipment is a slow and expensive process. This means that the right combination of environmental conditions and cheap energy represents the best chance of miners reducing costs and their impact on the environment.