Byron Bay becomes the new home of Aussie bitcoin mining

Australia’s largest bitcoin mine will come online in Byron Bay later this month, after local digital infrastructure company Mawson Infrastructure Group inked a deal with renewable energy powerhouse Quinbrook Infrastructure Partners, setting the scene for a rollout of crypto mines across Australia.

The mine is set to add around 0.4 exahash (a measure of computing ‘horsepower’) to global crypto mining operations, and will be 100 per cent powered by renewable energy generated at the Quinbrook site.

Bitcoin mines, which are essentially large data centres with computing power dedicated to solving complex algorithms that secure and power the blockchain, can be turned on and off quickly.

This gives power generators like Quinbrook an avenue to direct their energy should the broader Australian electricity grid require less supply, like during the middle of the night, or turn off if the electricity grid requires more.

“That was key in the deal, that we were willing to do that curtailment at peak network load times,” James Manning, chief executive of Mawson Infrastructure, said.

“Our ability to just turn on and off reduces overall power costs and allows us to put more power back into the grid at the right time.”

The deal comes days after the final report of the Australia as a Technology and Financial Centre (ATFC) committee was tabled, recommending local bitcoin miners receive a company tax discount of 10 per cent if they source their own renewable energy.

“That makes a huge difference and will help justify building much larger projects in Australia,” said Mr Manning, who has also recently purchased 4000 more ASIC (Application-Specific Integrated Circuit) bitcoin miners which he hopes will increase operational capacity by 11.7 per cent by the second quarter of 2022.

“We have a lot more infrastructure available to us now, and we’d love to build more in Australia and the tax incentive helps us redirect some of that to Australia.”

Quinbrook currently manages the Cape Byron Infrastructure Fund which owns and operates a portfolio of biomass power stations near Byron Bay in NSW.

The Mawson mine is co-located inside one Quinbrook facility, and has been amended to satisfy Australian workplace health and safety standards, that differ from the United States, where Mawson Infrastructure also operates cryptocurrency mines in Georgia and Pennsylvania.

The two partners have negotiated a profit sharing arrangement after direct operating costs.

Mawson’s new Byron Bay mine is set to be the largest onshore cryptocurrency mine in Australia, according to Mr Manning.

Tasmanian-based Firmus, which powers computer servers using hydrogen energy and uses cryptocurrency mining machines to balance out varying power loads, is also said to be raising capital.

The total petahash online on the blockchain is called the global hash rate, which represents the sum of all the computers around the world solving Bitcoin algorithms.

Sydney-based Mawson Infrastructure listed on the Nasdaq earlier this year after raising $US37 million ($49.6 million) at a $1 billion valuation. At the time, the bitcoin miner said it was saddened by the ASX’s refusal to allow cryptocurrency-exposed businesses to list locally.

It is currently trading at $US9.38 a share, with a market cap of $US647.2 million.

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