New Canada Bitcoin Mining Operation in Ocean Falls Looks to Revitalize the City
While the remote and rural towns of Canada were once abandoned and abandoned areas that few saw the value in investing in, they are continuing to prove as resolute in the face of changing times as the buildings and trees withstanding the frigid temperatures.
Why is it that they're so stable? Because they're seen as highly attractive areas for up and coming Bitcoin mining operations to set up. Where it proves unattractive for new homeowners, the cold weather and abundance of spare energy resources make them prime real estate for an industry with a voracious appetite for energy.
Ocean Falls – Destiny Calls: A Ghost Town with a Bright Future?
One example of this remarkable, Lazarus-style revival? Ocean Falls is one such example.
Situated in a remote area of British Columbia, it was once home to a vast wood mill, acting in support of the booming paper industry. This activity has since fallen silent, however, and it's been that way since the mid-1980s when demand began to depreciate.
The effect? A continually small community of locals shrank dramatically in the years following the closure. What was once a population of 5,000 locals and workers has since slid down to a population of just 100, according to a Bloomberg report.
This summer, however, sections of the mill came back to life for what must have been nearly three decades. But where there were once the vigorous revolutions of buzz saws, it's now replaced with the faint, yet plentiful hums of computer components, with their fans taking advantage of the plentiful cool breezes. Why? Because a blockchain startup decided to pick up sticks and set up shop in Ocean Falls.
Ocean Falls has attracted blockchain companies to its shores because of its abundance of power, more importantly, its plentiful supply of hydroelectricity. The primary power supply for the saw mill in earlier years was from the dam, the latter of which is still capable of producing roughly 13 megawatts of electricity. And since the dam is not connected to the grid, its energy is used to generate power for the relatively tiny community, while also leaving more than enough for neighboring towns like Bella Bella and Shearwater.
Combined, these three towns take up, in consumption, less than a third of the total energy produced by the dam annually. This effectively means that there is more than enough surplus power for those companies that have proven exceptionally power hungry.
When it comes to any producer that has a surplus of energy, there are going to be a wide number of industries queueing out the door to tap in to such a resource, were it in a more urban setting. However, given the fact that this is a highly remote supply, it means that most companies simply cannot justify moving operations or setting up new ones in order to take advantage of that.
On the other hand, Bitcoin mining is very different since nothing physical is being produced by the super-processing units applied when mining, making for a far less painful headache when it comes to logistics. As a result, those involved in the industry can forget about a large amount of the logistics of moving to somewhere like Ocean Falls. These are the sorts of issues that blighted the likes of the cannabis growing operations, casinos, breweries and water bottling companies that prevented them from calling Ocean Falls home.
The entrepreneur behind the move to British Columbia, including the development of Ocean Falls Blockchain, is Kevin Day. Day himself approached Brent Case, who was the operations manager of the firm that owns the dam, which took place in 2015. Day had the initial idea to build a mining operation in the town, but without the critical knowledge and connections of an individual like Case, this would have been a completely different story.
Between these two individuals, the planned move has been two and a half years in the making, partly to transform the huge room in the old mill into a full-fledged mining facility. This included a number of strenuous negotiation sessions with the owning organization behind the dam, Boralex. Once they had finally agreed to the rate (which, according to Bloomberg, the actual price is not yet known, but is believed to be less than 4c per kilowatt hour), the equipment could be brought in. When all was finally completed, the mine commenced operations as of July this year.
Case was particularly excited by the overall prospect of breathing new life and revitalizing the previously depopulated town and making use of a monumental volume of energy that was previously going spare. However, since data centers require minimal upkeep after their initial setting up, it is unclear just how the industry will impact the town.
After all, there won't exactly be a dire need for hundreds or thousands of new employees to move to Ocean Falls. What this means is that the local economy may not see much or any impact at all from the introduction of this new blockchain business.
Granted, there will be some that will be required to move to the town, but that's not in any numbers that would otherwise kick start a town that has seen its population fall from 5,000 to where it is now. Perhaps places like Ocean Falls are destined to remain ghost towns, despite their role in promoting decentralization and security on the Bitcoin blockchain.