Secret Bitcoin mining facilities discovered in Bhutan’s remote mountain kingdom

A Forbes investigation has unveiled the Kingdom of Bhutan’s clandestine development of a series of Bitcoin mining facilities. Through satellite imagery from Planet Labs, Satellite Vu, and Google Earth, coupled with insights into Bhutan’s crypto investments, the publication identified four undisclosed crypto-mining sites.

Bhutan is operating secret, state-owned Bitcoin mining facilities

The satellite images expose long, rectangular mining units and discreet data center cooling systems nestled within the dense forests and mountainous landscapes of the Himalayan country. Additionally, high-capacity power lines and transformers, connecting to Bhutan’s hydroelectric plants, were observed at these mining locations, as reported by Forbes.

The sites were strategically situated: one near Dochula Pass, a sacred area adorned with 108 memorial shrines, and others identified in Trongsa, a mountainous central town, Dagana in the south, and the site of “Education City,” a failed $1 billion government initiative aimed at revitalizing the economy.

Forbes suggests that construction work at these sites likely commenced in 2020, deduced from tracking earth-moving activities and building progress. Bitcoin mining, an energy-intensive process consuming approximately 91 terawatt-hours annually, surpassing the electricity usage of many countries, has notably impacted Bhutan. The country’s crypto-mining activities have led to a significant surge in energy imports and usage, with a reported $20.7 million spent on electricity in 2023. This contrasts with Bhutan’s historical practice of selling surplus hydropower to India.

King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, Bhutan’s monarch, has harbored a longstanding fascination with cryptocurrency. He envisions it as a crucial factor in averting an economic crisis for the remote mountain nation, home to less than 800,000 people. Bhutan, often referred to as “The Last Shangri-la,” faced challenges such as declining tourism during the COVID-19 pandemic, escalating youth unemployment, and a brain drain fueled by increased emigration.

In this pursuit, Bhutan stands out, as El Salvador remains the sole country globally known for operating state-owned crypto mines.


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