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Arctic soviet gulag turned Bitcoin mining farm

Photo of: Joseph Stone
by Joseph Stone

A Russian company is about to open a rather special hotel in the Arctic Circle. It is not the kind of hotel that most people would dream of visiting as it is a crypto mining “hotel” equipped with bitcoin ASICs (BTC) and powered by 11.2 MW of electrical energy.

This unique crypto hotel in Norilsk will be based in facilities owned by Norilsk Nickel, a company (headed by Russia’s richest man, Vladimir Potanin) which is working on the launch of a government-approved Tokenized Metal Trading Platform.

Built on the permafrost in the 1930s, Norilsk is one of the northernmost permanent human settlements in the world and was the center of the region’s gulag-type labor camps in Soviet times. Camp residents were put to work in the city’s mines and smelters of nickel and other metal resources. Average annual temperatures were -6 to -10°C.

The bitcoin mining project seems to be a figment of the imagination of the local authorities in Norilsk, who, according to the media Zapolyarnaya Pravda, have suggested that other miners may soon be welcomed to the region.

The head of the city council said,

“The construction of mining farms in the Arctic will attract a lot of investment here. And this will undoubtedly stimulate regional growth.”

The facilities, managed by a new Swiss mining company called BitCluster, will initially be equipped with 150 ASIC S19 platforms from the Chinese company Bitmain.

As a reminder, Russia has been quite equivocal around cryptocurrency lately. A few weeks ago, it announced that it would limit its citizens in potential cryptocurrency acquisitions. This was a bad sign that was quickly followed by another important announcement from the Russian government. Russia announced it was working on its own cryptocurrency, a digital central currency which would be available to the public in the next few years.