Bhutan raising $500m to fund carbon-free crypto mining project

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Bhutan’s investment arm Druk Holding & Investments and Nasdaq-listed crypto mining company Bitdeer Technologies Group have announced plans to raise $500 million to develop green crypto mining in the country.

The aim is to target institutional investors for funding, with fundraising set to begin at the end of May. The goal is to create carbon-free digital mining using Bhutan’s abundant hydroelectric power. The Himalayan nation will focus on Bitcoin as the least risky way to tap into the crypto industry.

“It’s important for us to look at assets that are low volume, high value, or digital assets for that matter, and try to position ourselves in a way that we can be competitive globally over time to build our economy,” Druk Holding & Investments CEO Ujjwal Deep Dahal said.

As a forest-laden country sandwiched between China and India with a population of about 777,000 people, Bhutan has long wanted to diversify its economy, which so far has relied on hydropower revenues.

Bitdeer CEO Matt Linghui Kong said in an interview that the company would invest in the planned new fund alongside Druk. This announcement is a breath of fresh air for the crypto industry since Bitcoin mining uses a lot of energy that comes from non-renewable sources such as coal and natural gas.

Druk currently manages the traditional areas of the Bhutan government’s investments, encompassing energy, technology, stocks, bonds and real estate. Following this potential new development, it will also handle the crypto mining and investment, dubbing it its “future-facing” strategy.

Bitcoin mining works by solving complex mathematical puzzles using energy-reliant computing rigs. This has led to criticism of the environmental fallout when dirty fuels power the operations.

To address the issue, Bitdeer plans to set up a 100-megawatt operation in Bhutan using hydroelectric power, with construction starting in Q2 2023 and completion slated for July to September.

Experienced players

Headquartered in Singapore, Bitdeer was founded by Chinese entrepreneur Jihan Wu. The company has one of the largest facilities in Texas and is one of the top crypto miners by computer power.

The company was finally listed on Nasdaq this April after they sealed a long-delayed merger with a special purpose acquisition company.

Druk first sank its teeth into the world of crypto mining under a “sandbox” approach when Bitcoin was trading at around $5,000. It later invested in the now-bankrupt U.S. digital-asset lenders Celsius Network LLC and BlockFi Inc. They were only a tiny part of Druk’s portfolio and have been “settled,” according to Dahal.

Bitcoin hit its all-time high in the pandemic-era crypto boom that saw its price soaring to almost $69,000. Its value would later plummet to below $16,000 in 2022 but has since rebounded to about $28,500.

Bhutan’s entry into the realm of cryptocurrency is noteworthy because the country is well-known for using a “Gross National Happiness” indicator to evaluate economic progress. This measure considers factors such as mental well-being and ecological diversity when assessing the quality of life.

The development of green crypto mining could help reduce the industry’s carbon footprint and make it more sustainable in the long term.


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