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Bitcoin cryptocurrency mining facility debuts in West Texas

DICKENS COUNTY — Nestled a few miles north of the town of Dickens down a gravel county road is a 125,000 square-foot warehouse full of high-tech supercomputing equipment that seemed to pop up almost overnight.

In 2019, Dickens County Judge Kevin Brendle received a random email that eventually led to this new datacenter breaking ground about eight months ago. Now, the facility is churning out Bitcoin in the Gateway to the Rolling Plains.

The facility is Argo Blockchain’s new flagship cryptocurrency mining center, dubbed “Helios,” which opened to much fanfare Thursday morning at the site between Afton and McAdoo.

Take a tour of the new center:A look at Dickens County’s new crypto mining center

The festivities at Thursday’s grand opening included remarks from elected officials and company executives, guided tours, a catered meal and live music. US Rep. Ronny Jackson, R-Amarillo, and Lubbock Republicans state Rep. Dustin Burrows and state Sen. Charles Perry were all on hand to congratulate the company and community on the achievement.

Argo Blockchain opens its flagship bitcoin site, Thursday, May 5, 2022, in Dickens County.  The facility 125,000 square feet and is on 160 acres of land.

Argo is based in the United Kingdom and maintains offices in Quebec, Canada and Houston, but CEO Peter Wall says “It’s kind of based here now. We have more people employed in Dickens County than anywhere else. This is our flagship mining facility. This is a huge, huge place for us.”

Wall says the datacenter will be capable of mining around 25 Bitcoin per day, or about five times the company’s current output. Based on Saturday’s Bitcoin value, that would mean the Dickens facility could generate about $900,000 in revenue per day for Argo, though Bitcoin values ​​fluctuate wildly.

Photos:Argo Blockchain cryptocurrency opens flagship in Dickens County

Mining, Wall says, is basically the process of receiving new Bitcoin in as a reward for verifying other Bitcoin transactions through complex mathematical computations on a computer network.

Argo Blockchain opens its flagship bitcoin site, Thursday, May 5, 2022, in Dickens County.  The facility 125,000 square feet and is on 160 acres of land.

“In our current financial system, if I’m going to send you some money from one place to another, you use a bank, and the bank is the trusted third party,” Wall said. “In the Bitcoin network, you use a network of decentralized computers that are spread out around the world. We’re part of that network.”

Why West Texas?

Argo chose Dickens County to build its 200-megawatt facility because of the abundant supply of cheap wind energy, Wall said, which is important because of the company’s focus on sustainability as they plan to quadruple the output of the Dickens facility in the near future.

“The main thing that you need to be a Bitcoin miner is power, and what there’s lots of in West Texas is power, particularly wind power,” Wall said, noting that power in Dickens County costs less than half of what it does at the company’s facility in Quebec.

The county’s people also drew them in.

McAdoo volunteer fire department members attend the Argo Blockchain flagship opening, Thursday, May 5, 2022, in Dickens County.  The bitcoin site uses windmill energy from McAdoo.

“People in Dickens County are really talented and hard-working,” Wall said. “We’ve got 26 people employed now in Dickens County and 45 in the region. We’re now the largest employer in the county, other than the school systems.”

County Judge Kevin Brendle — who jokingly referred to himself as “Bitcoin Brendle” — said that Argo’s use of power and people is beneficial not just to the county, but to the community as well.

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