Like many of the top companies in the space, Bitmain, the largest cryptocurrency mining hardware manufacturer, did not escape the bite of last year’s bearish cryptoeconomy downswing. The firm eventually made significant restructurings in its workforce in response.
For a time then, Bitmain’s plans for a new mining farm in Rockdale, Texas — which the company confirmed in August 2018 and envisioned would become the world’s biggest bitcoin mine yet — seemed in jeopardy. Not anymore, though.
On October 21st, Bitmain and Rockdale officials announced the formal launch of the massive 50 megawatts (MW) farm, which is housed on a 33,000 acre site that was formerly home to an Aluminum Company of America (Alcoa) smelting facility.
Bitmain Plans to Expand Rockdale Operations Further
Work began on the farm last year, with a preliminary 25MW facility having been set up. Bitmain has now doubled the operation’s scope upon its launch, and the company said that capacity could increase another 500 percent per its Monday announcement.
For comparison, the bitcoin mining center Bitmain activated in Washington state last year launched with only 12MW of capacity.
If brought to fruition, that potential 500 percent expansion would make the Rockdale farm in a league of its own on the global stage.
“Bitmain will continue to construct the 50MW facility, which can expand to a capacity of more than 300MW, making it the largest bitcoin mining facility in the world,” the mining company said.
#Bitmain completes construction of 50MW mining facility in #Rockdale #Texas. (https://t.co/Sztme8Fokf) The project is set to create jobs in the area and plans to work with the local district to provide education and training on blockchain technology and data center operations. pic.twitter.com/z5W7b7eNei
— ANTMINER (@Antminer_main) October 21, 2019
The effort is poised to be a win-win situation for the company and the local Rockdale community, which will benefit from new jobs after having been hard hit by the departures of traditional industry enterprises in recent years.
For its part, Bitmain sees Texas as a key region for the cryptocurrency mining ecosystem going forward. Clinton Brown, Bitmain’s lead project manager for the Rockdale site, said:
“We are excited to launch this facility, which is significant to Bitmain’s global expansion plans. The stable and efficient energy resources in Texas are fundamental to the inevitable scale of growth for the cryptocurrency mining industry.”
Rockdale Farm Is No Longer in Limbo
When Bitmain confirmed its Rockdale plans, the farm had originally been set to create as many as 600 local jobs and enjoy an astounding 500MW of electrical capacity.
Then the 2018 cryptoeconomy bear market hit, and it hit hard. Like other mining companies and cryptocurrency exchanges, Bitmain was far from immune to the market acute downturn.
Indeed, the company is estimated to have lost around $500 million USD in Q3 2018 alone. That November, the company cut back hirings and growth at the Rockdale site accordingly froze, with only 14 employees manning the plant at the time.
As the bear market continued to bite, Bitmain is thought to have let go hundreds of employees in operational restructurings by the end of January 2019. 9 of the 14 Rockdale workers were included in those hundreds, and locals wondered if the project might go bust altogether. Without going into specifics, Bitmain confirmed personnel changes had occurred in a March blog update.
“Downsizing of the facility was necessary to keep up with the changing market demand,” company spokesperson Nishant Sharma later told WIRED.
Those changes were enough to keep the Rockdale mine in play, as this week’s news shows. And while the new mine arrived later and with less staff than originally envisioned, it has finally materialized, it is set to become unprecedented in scope, and it has the potential to become a positive force in the Rockdale community and beyond.
“With these operational changes now in place, the priority for this year is to double-down on innovating for and serving our customers,” Bitmain said in its aforementioned March update.