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The Kingdom of Bhutan’s Secret Bitcoin Mining Operation Revealed

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The Kingdom of Bhutan, known for its pursuit of Gross National Happiness, has been operating a covert Bitcoin mining operation to avert an economic crisis, according to Forbes. The extent of Bhutan's mining operation was previously unknown, but Forbes journalists Iain Martin and Sarah Emerson have now exposed the world's largest state-owned Bitcoin mines.

Hidden Bitcoin Mining Facilities Discovered

Forbes reports that behind a hillside south of Thimphu, dozens of shipping containers house millions of dollars worth of Bitcoin mining machinery, effectively hidden from the public eye. These facilities were strategically established approximately four years ago, using land, energy, and substantial funding to potentially counteract an impending economic crisis.

Locations of Mining Sites Revealed

Forbes has identified four suspected mining sites in Bhutan. The first site is near Dochula Pass, a location of cultural and political significance, with mining units camouflaged by extensive forestation. Other mining sites are located near Trongsa, in the district of Dagana, and on the site of the former Education City project.

Import Data and Power Consumption

Customs data reveals that in December 2021, Bhutan imported $193 million worth of "processing units" consistent with Bitcoin mining hardware. This aligns with a 63% spike in the country's power consumption in 2022 and an increase in electricity imports. The power demands of Bitcoin mining are believed to be a contributing factor.

Bhutan's Bold Economic Strategy

Bhutan's engagement with Bitcoin mining is seen as a bold step to diversify its economic strategy, which has traditionally relied on tourism and hydropower exports. The country's trade data also points to over $220 million in mining chip imports from China between 2021 and 2022.

Partnership with Bitdeer

Bhutan has partnered with Bitdeer, a Singapore-based Bitcoin mining giant, which has led to a significant expansion of Bhutan's mining endeavors. Bitdeer recently launched a mining project in the southern town of Gedu, bringing online 100 megawatts of capacity in August.

Bhutan's Commitment to Blockchain Solutions

Despite forecasted economic growth slowdown and calls for reforms, Bhutan remains committed to blockchain solutions. The country recently launched a decentralized digital identity app, tested by the crown prince himself.

At press time, BTC traded at $37,480.