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Bitcoin miners flock to mountainous Sichuan for cheap electricity, ideal conditions

By Li Yan (People's Daily Online)    15:28, February 23, 2017

Because of low electricity prices, remote mountainous areas in Sichuan province are becoming home to an increasing number of Bitcoin mining companies. The cutting-edge virtual currency has already begun to affect local people's lives.

Mabian Yi Autonomous County, located at the southwestern edge of Sichuan, nurtures a prosperous bitcoin "mining" industry. A network company named Tianjia owns 1,500 mining machines working simultaneously to procure the digital currency by solving complicated equations.

The machines can obtain as many as 10 Bitcoins after working non-stop for 24 hours, according to the operation manager of the mining site. The company has hired maintenance workers to patrol the mining site around the clock.

To save on costs and electricity, Bitcoin mining sites are mostly built inside hydropower stations, which makes them relatively inaccessible. Nevertheless, locals are becoming more and more interested in the virtual industry, as well as related regulations issued by the Central Bank.

Kangding, located in the Garze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture on the western edge of Sichuan, is the site of over 20 Bitcoin mining companies. The industry has become so popular that nearly everyone living and working in the region has some opinion on the matter.

Sichuan's sales volume of Bitcoin machines has led the country since 2015, contributing over one-third of the country's total sales volume. The world's largest Bitcoin machine vendor has only two fixed stations in the world; one is in Kangding.

Sichuan has abundant water resources, leading one industry insider to warn that Bitcoin workers must remain vigilant so that water doesn't flush away profitable opportunities, especially during the wet season. But during the dry season, the water-dependent mining sites have to migrate elsewhere, because electricity prices can sometimes double. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Zhang Tianrui, Bianji)

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