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[Slashdot] - A Bitcoin Mine In Navajo Nation Flares Tensions


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An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: Just outside of Shiprock, New Mexico, on land belonging to the Navajo Nation, a Bitcoin mine owned and operated by a Canadian investment company consumes seven megawatts of power each month -- enough to power 19,600 homes. The operation is run by a firm called WestBlock Capital and mines between 23 and 25 bitcoins per month, equivalent to roughly $1.4 to $1.6 million USD, with a majority of its power coming from renewable solar energy. According to a press release from the mine's parent company, Luxxfolio, the mine accesses these resources "at significantly reduced cost in the bottom decile of global power costs." But all around the mine, Dine -- citizens of the Navajo Nation -- live without electricity or running water in their homes. The Navajo Tribal Utility Authority (NTUA), the nation's non-profit utility enterprise that initially partnered with Calgary, Alberta blockchain company WestBlock on the mine project, is working to connect more homes on the nation to basic utilities. A short documentary detailing the project by Bitcoin mining hosting company Compass was released last week, framing the mine as a means to achieve sovereignty and economic prosperity for the nation. But some Dine are bristling at the idea of a foreign Bitcoin mining company getting access to dirt cheap electricity while residents in Navajo Nation live without basic utilities like power and running water. Tyler Puente, who commented on a since-deleted Facebook post from Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez's Facebook page about the mine's groundbreaking ceremony that Navajo leadership are allowing outsiders to take advantage of Dine, told Motherboard that he sees the Bitcoin mine as a form of "financial colonialism." "I think Bitcoin companies prey on communities like my own," said Puente. "My perspective is that we're being used." To some Dine, WestBlock project resembles a form of crypto-colonialism, a term that describes the exploitation of lands and resources by cryptocurrency and blockchain interests, often under the guise of progressive or egalitarian rhetorics for the host communities.

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