Utah-based Power Block Coin, a subsidiary of Blue Castle Holdings, is planning to invest $251 million to build a cryptocurrency mining farm in Montana Connections, a special tax district west of Butte city.
Butte-Silver Bow Council of Commissioners voted unanimously, 9-0, Wednesday night to allow the company to develop a campus of high-powered data centers in Montana Connections. Power Block Coin’s goal is to bring 135 megawatts of power to its campus.
The crypto mining farm will be built in two phases over 24 months. $8 million to $10 million of the investment will be used to improve energy infrastructure, including building a new electric substation to enable the power consumption required for cryptocurrency mining.
Around $60 million will be spent on 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 company intends to break ground on the mining farm this summer, with the first data center operational within 30-60 days of construction start. The project is expected to hire up to 15 new employees by the end of the year and create 50 new jobs once it is fully functional. The salaries are estimated to range from $37,000 per year to $48,000 per year.
In addition to mining cryptocurrencies, the company said the facility can also be used by other businesses that need large amounts of power, such as medical researchers and artificial intelligence.
“Bitcoin is the fastest growing segment of cryptocurrency,” said Aaron Tilton, President and CEO of Blue Castle Holdings. “If it tanks, the same processors can be used for medical research or AI.”
County administrator Kristen Rosa said the county will reimburse Power Block Coin for their infrastructure through the taxes the company generates at Montana Connections. But 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.”
While the commissioners voted unanimously to approve the crypto mining farm, local citizens expressed concerns that the company would go out of business, leaving the county responsible for unnecessary infrastructure.
Brian Landblom, a former software engineer for Flagship Biosciences, expressed concern that Power Block Coin would not survive for very long. He also took issue with the salaries the company plans to offer and worried that the county would be left holding the bag with a lot of infrastructure in Montana Connections that would then become unused.