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Montana: Power Block Coin, LLC to Build $251 Million Data Center to Mine Cryptocurrency

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Power Block Coin, LLC’s proposal to invest $251 million to build a cryptocurrency mining farm in Montana Connections, a special tax district west of the city of Butte, has been given the green light.

This Wednesday, Butte-Silver Bow Council of Commissioners voted unanimously (9-0) to allow Utah-based Power Block Coin, LLC — a subsidiary of Blue Castle Holdings Inc. — to build a campus of high-powered data centres in special tax district Montana Connections. The company plans to spend $251 million on improvements to the site over 36 months.

The Campus

Power Block Coin plans to harness 135-megawatts of power on its campus. As per the proposal to the county, the company will do this by building a substation at Montana Connections, which will be built in two phases over 24 months. Out of the $251 million total, $8 to $10 million will be spent on this new electric infrastructure. The company also plans to spend $60 million on between 70 to 200 separate mining units, each of which would use large amounts of power transmitted through the new substation. The size of these units will vary from larger warehouse buildings to small shipping containers.

The reason for the creation of this campus is primarily to mine digital currency mining, like Bitcoin. In addition, the infrastructure the company builds will also be able to support other businesses that need large amounts of power, such medical research, and artificial intelligence.

“Bitcoin is the fastest growing segment of cryptocurrency. If it tanks, the same processors can be used for medical research or AI (artificial intelligence),” Aaron Tilton, President and CEO of Blue Castle Holdings, said.

Moving Forward

According to Tilton’s interview with The Montana Standard, the jobs available at the campus won’t all begin at once. He estimates they will hire about 15 employees before the end of the year — that number will jump up to about 50 by the time the project is up and running. Salaries are estimated to range from $37,000 per year to $48,000 per year. Tilton said the company hopes to break ground this summer. After that, they expect to have the first data center up and running within 30 to 60 days, and by the end of the year, Power Block Coin anticipates it will have 30-megawatts of power at its campus.

County administrator Kristen Rosa said the county will reimburse Power Block Coin for their infrastructure through the taxes the company generates at Montana Connections — adding that it would only be based on what the company itself invests.

“Power Block Coin has to invest their money, build a substation, they’ll be a big power user,” Rosa said. “It’s not just a Bitcoin facility. We’re not buying into Bitcoin. They’re an aggregator, a campus to allow additional users to come in and use power.”

Data centers are key to the broader Bitcoin project going forward, as fewer coins are available to be mined and computation becomes ever more difficult. The climate of Montana is conducive to mining operations: Located in the West and Northern-most part of the U.S., along the border with Canada, Montana is very cold for a substantial part of the year, which can save miners money on cooling costs (mining operations generate a substantial amount of heat — sometimes leading to disaster).

Power Block Coin’s operation will be the second largest mining operation to find Montana in recent years. Back in 2016, Project Spokane, LLC launched its site near Missoula. It’s already one of the largest energy consumers in the region, housing a 20-megawatt facility and employing at least 25 locals.

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Venezuela Named Cheapest Country to Mine Crypto as El Petro is Launched

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As president, Nicolas Maduro rolls out the El Petro ICO, Venezuela is named the cheapest country in the world to mine Bitcoin. But is it also the most expensive place to live?

The manual for the first 82.4 million units of the Venezuelan cryptocurrency, El Petro was made available for download in multiple languages yesterday to much international criticism. The digital currency, which is linked to the countries oil reserves, has been derided as a workaround of the economic sanctions created to allow those in power to increase their wealth in the crypto market.

President Maduro announced that the valuation of the Petro’s 100 million tokens would be just over $6 billion and that the sale would bring a new economic era to the nation.

Cheapest Mining In The World

Meanwhile, the country has been named the cheapest location in the world to mine cryptocurrency. According to the company Elite Fixtures which carried out a study on the cost of mining around the world Venezuela is more than 100% cheaper then it’s near neighbor Trinidad and Tobago.

According to the company they took statistics supplied by countries and agencies around the world on electricity costs and compared the use on three of the most popular mining rig configurations. The cost in Venezuela was $531 followed by Trinidad at $1,190 with South Korea coming in at $26,170 per coin, the most expensive in the world.

China, Russia, and The United States present similar costs. China being slightly cheaper at $3,965 while both Russia and the US are around $4,700.

But Also The Highest Cost Of Living

While making money mining Bitcoin in the Latin American country may be very profitable due to its subsidized electricity doing almost anything else is very expensive. Inflation over recent years in Venezuela has been as high as 800% by some estimates making the Bolivar essentially worthless as the government prints more and more of the currency.

The oil-rich country carries a 14% budget deficit of its GDP and a 60 trillion debt after decades of mismanagement by corrupt or just truly wrong-minded leadership. Though the official exchange rate is about 6.3 Bolivar per US Dollar the black market rate is multitudes higher, perhaps as high as 100 times that.

Factor in the scarcity of everything from food to medicine, as well as a crime rate that has soared over the last three years and it’s clear that the cost of living in the country would offset the advantage of cheap electricity. Given the dire state of the economy as well as the government’s oblique regulatory stance on Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency trading the launch of El Petro seems an odd solution to the countries economic woes.

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Crypto Mining Craze Creates Global GPU Shortage

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The cryptocurrency bull run of 2017 attracted multitudes of investors looking to get rich quick but it also created a mining boom that has resulted in a worldwide shortage of computer components.

Miners Plunder Singapore, Hong Kong For Cheap Rigs

Scores of miners from around the world come to the electronics bazaars in Asia to buy cryptocurrency rigs. Hong Kong’s Sham Shui Po and Singapore’s Sim Lim Square to name just a couple are jammed with people of all ages ordering specialized rigs.

This new demand for mining rigs has revitalized these electronic markets that were dying only a few years ago when shoppers turned online for computers, cameras, and gadgets of all kinds.

“It’s 30-50 percent cheaper to buy equipment related to crypto-mining in Hong Kong than in Europe,” Russian bitcoin miner Dima Popov said. This is because Hong Kong has no sales tax and is in close proximity to Chinese components manufacturers.

Miners are demanding more powerful rigs that can include up to 500 graphics cards each which has created a worldwide shortage of the cards allowing manufacturers and retailers to gauge buyers on the price.

Scarce GPU Cards Selling At Double Price

The market for high-end graphics cards used to work like anything else. You went to the electronics shop, found the card you wanted and paid just about the Manufacturer’s retail price. Today due to the escalating demand from mining you’ll most likely find the shelves that once held them bare but if you do actually what your looking for expect to pay a premium.

These high-end graphics cards are the most efficient way to mine cryptocurrency and as hobbyist miners and big players alike scramble to snatch up as many as they can prices go through the roof. Last summer popular GPU’s like the AMD Radeon RX 580 sold for about $250 at retail, today the price is more likely to be over $500 and that is if you can find them.

Checking the price of the 5 most popular graphics cards from last year and comparing it with the updated version shows a general price increase of between 70 and 100%. This leaves many wannabe miners trolling online for the best deals on new or even second-hand cards. Buying older cards though means slower computing ability which reduces the profitability of a rig.

Rigs using, for example, a high-end Nvidia Geforce GTX 1080 ti card costing around $1,300 (MSRP) can earn as much as $10 dollars a day at current crypto values. This means that the card may pay for itself in about 4 months.

String the math out and it’s easy to see how a fair sized rig can make a very nice profit over a year or more. Retailers reported a dip in demand for the cards during the crypto market correction but now that Bitcoin and it’s like are on the rise sellers and manufacturers are looking for demand to reach and surpass 2017.

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FCC: Bitcoin Miner Interfered with T-Mobile’s LTE Network in Brooklyn

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The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has taken action against a Brooklyn resident who was using a Bitcoin miner because the machine was interfering with T-Mobile’s 700 MHz LTE network in the city. FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel commented on the incident in a Tweet:

New York City resident Victor Rosario was issued a Notification of Harmful Interference and was ordered to turn off his Antminer S5 Bitcoin Miner after the FCC discovered that it was interfering with T-Mobile’s wireless network. “On November 30, 2017, in response to the complaint agents from the Enforcement Bureau’s New York Office confirmed by direction finding techniques that radio emissions in the 700 MHz band were emanating from your residence in Brooklyn, New York,” the FCC wrote in a complaint posted to its site.

“When the interfering device was turned off the interference ceased. You identified the device as an Antminer S5 Bitcoin Miner. The device was generating spurious emissions on frequencies assigned to T-Mobile’s broadband network and causing harmful interference.”

The FCC warned Rosario that continued use of the device — and therefore further interference with T-Mobile’s network — would be a violation of federal laws, and “could subject the operator to severe penalties, including, but not limited to, substantial monetary fines, in rem arrest action to seize the offending radio equipment, and criminal sanctions including imprisonment.”

Agency rules require operators of radio frequency devices to cease operating a device after receiving this type of notification. “Operation shall not resume until the condition causing the harmful interference has been corrected,” the FCC said.

What isn’t clear is why the Antminer S5 Bitcoin Miner was generating 700MHz radio emissions — a hardware design flaw or after-market modifications made by the user could potentially be the cause. The Notification of Harmful Interference is specific to Rosario’s device, “not its brand or model and is not meant to suggest or find that all Antminer S5 devices are noncompliant,” the notification said in a footnote.

The FCC is still researching the issue, with the agency asking Rosario to answer several questions about the device and where he purchased it, asking Rosario specifically to “provide the following information on the device: Manufacturer, Model, Serial Number, and if there is any FCC labelling identification.”

Wireless carriers like T-Mobile have always attempted to protect their networks from interference. In 2016 AT&T said that its wireless network was suffering from interference generated by a range of electronics operations, including large-scale video displays, industrial lighting systems, LED lights, and FM radio stations. These interference situations could happen more frequently and become more complex as more devices are connected to wireless networks, and wireless networks span more and more frequency bands. T-Mobile is also facing a federal lawsuit for allowing hackers to steal users’ cryptocurrencies.

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Cryptocurrency Mining Upsets UFO Researchers: “They’re Limiting Our Search”

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Scientists listening for broadcasts from extra-terrestrials and UFOs are struggling to get the computer hardware they need thanks to the cryptocurrency mining craze, a radio-astronomer has said.

Researchers at Seti (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) want to expand operations at two observatories, but they’re facing an unanticipated problem: Key computer chips are in short supply, specifically GPUs, or graphics processing units. “That’s limiting our search for extra-terrestrials, to try to answer the question, ‘Are we alone? Is there anybody out there?'” Dr. Dan Werthimer, chief scientist at the Berkeley Seti Research Center, told the BBC.

“We’d like to use the latest GPUs… and we can’t get ’em,” Dr. Werthimer continued. “This is a new problem, it’s only happened on orders we’ve been trying to make in the last couple of months.”

Demand for GPUs has soared recently due to increasing numbers of cryptocurrency miners. Mining a cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin or Ethereum involves connecting computers to a global network and using them to solve complex mathematical algorithms. This forms part of the process of validating transactions made by people who use the virtual currencies. As a reward for this work, the miners receive a small crypto-currency payment, making it potentially profitable.

Earlier this year, there were reports that video gamers had been hit by a sudden rise in the cost of GPUs, thanks in particular to a rise in Ethereum mining, which can be done with chips aimed at consumers. At the time, major chip-maker Nvidia said that retailers should make arrangements to make sure gamers’ demands were met. In a conference call last week, Nvidia’s chief executive told investors the company was “working really hard” to “catch up with supply” and get GPUs to the marketplace.

“At Seti we want to look at as many frequency channels as we possibly can because we don’t know what frequency ET will be broadcasting on and we want to look for lots of different signal types – is it AM or FM, what communication are they using?” explained Dr Werthimer, “That takes a lot of computing power.”

He added that at some telescopes, Berkeley Seti has around 100 GPUs crunching data from large listening arrays. These arrays can pick up the faintest of radio frequencies that have been flung across our solar system from elsewhere in the universe — often from natural phenomena like collapsing stars. The Seti scientists are currently trying to improve their capacity for analyzing such data at two observatories: Green Bank in West Virginia and Parkes in Australia.

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View Adds Or Mine Cryptocurrency, Salon Gives You The Choice

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Deal with ads and pop-ups or become a corporate crypto-mining minion. These will be your choices from now on when you go to Salon’s website.

Add free for miners

In a bid to replace revenue lost from the number of browsers who have enabled ad-blocking programs Salon will now give you a choice, turn off your ad-blocking software or “suppress ads.”

By choosing the latter option viewers won’t be bothered by ads but will hand over part of their computers processing  power so that Salon can mine the cryptocurrency Monero using the program Coinhive.

Like many sites that depend on add revenue, Salon has felt the pinch of ad-blocking software in their money bag.

“Like most media sites, ad-blockers cut deeply into our revenue and create a more one-sided relationship between reader and publisher,”

Salon’s team wrote in a note addressing the new program.

If you chose to allow Salon to mine with your computer that agreement lasts for 24 hours and will then prompt you again on your next visit to their site. Critics though have raised concerns about recent criminal activity associated with Monero and hacks that have involved Coinhive.

Through no fault of it’s developers Monero has become the currency of choice for some criminals who dropped Bitcoin during it’s meteroic rise during 2017. While the concpet behind Coinhive is potentially beneficial for companies using it openly the software often makes the news as hackers use the program to mine cryptocurrency on computers of the unsuspecting.

Salon CEO Jordan Hoffner pushes those concerns aside saying that new technologies are often abused by criminals in their early stages but once adapted by the mainstream those activities abate.

“These things will straighten themselves out over time. I was there at the time of online video and online piracy. They straightened themselves out over time. That’s what history has suggested,”

Salon CEO Jordan Hoffner.

Is the candle worth the game?

The question to be asked though; is it worth alienating a portion of your readership for such a pittance? Based on Coinhive’s own predictions and Salon’s visitor numbers the site would only earn about $1,000 per month if every one of their 13 million monthly viewers decides to take the mining option.

For Hoffner though it’s about letting the past go and generating revenue in the future.

 “We are earning something when we were earning nothing … we just want to right now collect coins and see what happens.”

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