An investigative report by Forbes has unveiled a clandestine operation in the remote reaches of the Kingdom of Bhutan: a series of undisclosed Bitcoin mining facilities quietly operating amidst the mountainous terrain.
Through the use of satellite imagery from various sources and insider information, Forbes uncovered four covert crypto-mining sites concealed within Bhutan’s dense forests. These sites showcased elongated mining units and sophisticated data center cooling systems tucked away in the Himalayan landscape. Additionally, images revealed robust power infrastructure, including high-capacity lines and transformers connecting Bhutan’s hydroelectric plants to these clandestine facilities.
These covert operations, seemingly initiated in 2020 based on construction patterns, reflect the energy-intensive nature of Bitcoin mining. Bhutan, historically a hydropower exporter to India, has seen a surge in energy imports and usage, spending $20.7 million on electricity in 2023 due to the crypto-mining endeavors.
King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, Bhutan’s monarch, holds a deep interest in cryptocurrency, envisioning it as a potential safeguard against economic crises for the nation of less than 800,000 inhabitants. Amidst challenges like reduced tourism during the pandemic and escalating youth unemployment leading to emigration, the King sees crypto as a means to fortify Bhutan’s economy.
This covert foray into crypto-mining marks Bhutan’s effort to navigate economic uncertainties, reminiscent of El Salvador, currently the sole country acknowledged for state-owned crypto mining.
Intriguingly, the “The Last Shangri-la” is quietly exploring the world of Bitcoin, blending modern technology with its ancient mountainous landscape.