The Chinese police have shut down one of the largest Bitcoin mines in the country as a precaution for containing the spread of coronavirus. This comes in the midst of a wave of strict measures deployed by the Chinese government to control the epidemic that has claimed over 600 lives and over 31,000 infections.
The mine that was forcefully shut on Tuesday morning belonged to the bitcoin mining pool BTC.Top. The pool founder, Jiang Zhuoer, has issued a statement decrying the government’s actions.
Epidemic prevention in some places is already a mess. I have a mine in a remote suburb. The police came to force all the mining authorities and said that they would not resume work.
Zhuoer felt that the shutdown was unjustified since their personnel live on-site in a remote location far removed from the affected areas. He also questioned the logic to stop the operations since it was machine intensive run by a few people that barely commute.
The problem is that we haven’t stopped work. Where did we return to work? Maintenance personnel have lived in the mine since the Spring Festival. There are no new arrivals.
The mining pool founder suggested an alternative course of action the government should have taken under the circumstances. According to Zhuoer, they should have initiated screening followed by travel restrictions instead of the rather harsh decision to shut down their operations.
It is understandable to take a regular temperature measurement, roll call, and strictly prohibit going out, but what are the benefits of stopping mining machinery for epidemic prevention?
As at now, the exact location of the mine is not clear though some online commentators suggest that is situated in the province of Xinjiang. The region is far west of Wuhan, the city where the epidemic begun, with only a few coronavirus infection cases have been reported in Xianjiang.
Therefore, the shutdown of the BTC.Top mine seems a bit farfetched and could set a precedent that could adversely impact other mining farms.
Most of the mines in China are located in remote areas in the major mining hubs of Yunnan, Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia and the Sichuan provinces. Of these, only Mongolia has no confirmed cases so far. Notably though, most of the cases are concentrated in cities and urban areas while most mines are far removed, usually in very rural areas. This cannot however be taken as a saving grace by the miners if this shutdown is anything to go by. Zhuoer attested to this saying
Maybe all the other factories have been shut down, and we are no exception…. If [this continues], most people (especially the frontline workers who live from hand to mouth), will die from poverty before they die from the epidemic.
Despite of this closure and disruption in mining activities across China caused by the outbreak, Bitcoin hashrate continues to grow and the price closes in on $10,000. This is true testament to the power of decentralisation.
Image courtesy of Pixabay