Bitcoin miners are flocking to abandoned Soviet-era factories in Eastern Siberia to take advantage of cheap hydroelectricity, reported Coindesk.
Several miners have already established operations in Bratsk, an industrial city in Irkutsk Oblast, Russia, located on Angara River near the vast Bratsk Reservoir. These miners are taking advantage of cold temperatures and inexpensive hydroelectricity.
Bratsk is centered on an industrial region that was intended for the Soviet Union to produce weapons. But since the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the area has remained unproductive, without sustainable industry until now.
"The surplus of electric power in Russia is huge, due to the closure of some of the Soviet plants and to the fact that energy consumption, in general, became much more efficient over time," said Dmitry Ozersky, CEO of Eletro.Farm, a mining firm in Kazakhstan.
Coindesk said international mining firms have already established operations in Bratsk. Among them is BitRiver, a large scale mining data center, which has a total capacity of 100 megawatts per hour (MW/h) of electricity for its mining facility.
BitRiver's presentation video on YouTube indicates that its power is generated by the Bratsk hydroelectric power station five miles away.
A competitor of Bitriver called Minery also opened up mining operations in the area. The miner told Coindesk, "Siberia's climate makes it a no-brainer for choosing a mining host, providing natural cooling for most of the year."
"The average temperature in winter in Bratsk is around 0 degrees Fahrenheit. In summer, it can get as hot as 77 degrees but mostly stays around the 60s, and the warm season (meaning when it's not freezing) lasts four or five months a year. The average annual temperature here is 28," said Coindesk.
There are over 18,000 application-specific integrated circuits (abbreviated as ASIC), otherwise known as miners, at Bitriver's facility in August, according to Dmitri Ushakov, its chief commercial officer. Ushakov said most of the machines belong to owners from two countries, Russia and the US.
Bitriver and Minery aren't the only miners in the region. The third notable miner is Cryptoreactor.
Crypto miners are taking full advantage of the city's light regulatory strategy, along with no federal laws that oversee miners.
Hydroelectric power in Siberia is some of the cheapest in the world, about 3.4 cents per kilowatt-hour, less expensive than the US, China, Norway, and Canada.
Bratsk mayor Sergey Serebrennikov told Coindesk that crypto mining is revitalizing the local economy. Serebrennikov said:
"It's an absolutely new part of the economy and commerce in Bratsk, and for us, this project is interesting in every regard. It's providing new jobs and new big taxes paid to the city budget."
Besides Iran, Iceland, and Venezuela, who all have cheaper per kilowatt-hour rates than Bratsk, it sure seems that Eastern Siberia could be one of the top regions in the world to mine.