Bitcoin mining is a job provider

Tiffany Nelson was totally unaware about cryptocurrency and Bitcoin mining when she first landed upon her temporary job in 2019.

A Canadian company known as Westblock for recruiting “labor hands”, Nelson said.  They were basically recruiting to help unload boxes in data center facility on a land belonging to the Navajo Nation.

Nelson, who was a Navajo living on tribal land considered the job rare due to its convenience from home. The total tribal population consists of around 400,000 people, out of which only 170,000 live on the reservation. That is due to the poor economic conditions and lacking employment opportunities, especially for females.

Happily employed Nelson didn’t even knew what the actual business of the company was. Another female member, Kennette Philips was also hired around the same time and was also mysterious about the business activities of her employer.

After a while, when both women asked their employer about the actual use of sites. To which the employer replied that they were intended to use toaster-like machines for the purpose of Bitcoin mining.  Hearing this, both women were a bit relieved.

More about Bitcoin mining

Bitcoin mining is a heavy energy consuming process of computers validating bitcoin’s network of transactions. The cryptocurrency supply is limited to 21 million coins, it distributes a small piece of that supply to miners. This is done as the miners are helping to contribute computer power that helps in securing the network. This work seems to be highly attractive, especially as the bitcoin price has more than tripled over the last year. Bitcoin mining requires specialized computer systems, infrastructure, and strong and stable power supply.

After 3 years, Nelson and Philips manage operations for this site full-time. According to the CEO of Westblock, the facility is worth tens of millions of dollars due to the expensive mining equipment. For its protection, the facility has employed 6 security guards as well.

Unused power supply helping Bitcoin mining

Just like other Bitcoin mining operations, this too is benefiting from tapping into unused energy supply. After shutting down of a nearby coal-fired plan, the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority (NTUA) took over an extra 15-megawatt load of power supply.

The Westblock’s MacLean says, the power the operations takes from NTUA comes from a mix of solar, hydroelectric, natural gas and nuclear power. And 60% of it is attributed to renewable energy. Historically, the major revenue for tribes have come from leasing land to other extractive companies. 51% of the leases were for oil and gas mining operations. People criticizing Bitcoin mining for its high energy consumption are quick to point that Bitcoin now accounts for 1% of the planet’s energy consumption. Moreover, Westblock’s Bitcoin mining project is using 7 megawatts of the NTUA’s power and is planning to use all 15 megawatts in the upcoming years.

Though Westblock’s Bitcoin mining operations started in 2020, this year is the first time that the project has gained material profit. Along with the monthly revenues for internet and electricity paid to NTUA, Westblock also pays taxes and rents for its leased land.

A person familiar with operations in this project said the revenue generated is “in the millions”. Also that the Westblock is working with several tribals to find other sites that can be used for Bitcoin mining operations.

Lastly, Tiffany Nelson said – “It’s been a good ride and something that I’m proud of. I’m just happy to have a job close to home, especially since so many people lost their jobs during the pandemic.

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