Economic commissioners in Walla Walla County, a southeastern county in the U.S. state of Washington, have unanimously endorsed a land lease and purchase option for crypto-mining play Ant Creek LLC — governed solely by Jihan Wu, of Bitmain fame — permitting the company to set up a mining operation on a local 10-acre plot.
As reported in the Union-Bulletin, the Port of Walla Walla — the municipal corporation that facilitates economic development in the county — has finally approved a slimmed-down Ant Creek LLC mining operation within the county.
Jihan Wu Gets the Go-Ahead
Last month, local residents requested the commissioners on the Port of Walla Walla to reconsider the leasing of land to Ant Creek LLC. Following the request, the commissioners paused negotiations until the prospective operation’s advantages and disadvantages could be further analyzed.
According to the updated agreement, Jihan Wu’s Ant Creek LLC is entitled to lease 10 acres of land between the county’s Wallula Gap Business Park and Dodd Road Industrial Park, as opposed to the initial proposition of 30 acres. In compliance with the proposed agreement, the rent has been set just upwards of $4,700 USD per month, while Ant Creek LLC will have the privilege to purchase the land after one year’s time.
According to Union-Bulletin, to finalize the deal, the mining company still has to agree to all terms and condition of the agreement.
The Tumwater-based Ant Creek LLC is popularly presumed to be a subsidiary of China’s mining hardware powerhouse Bitmain, due to Jihan Wu being affiliated with both. However, neither company has officially acknowledged a formal association to date.
Vocal Locals Raise Concerns
The arguments, objections, and comments from the public against the Ant Creek LLC operation have been tense in recent weeks. To that end, one local resident even had to be escorted out of one recent Port hearing over heated opposition to the county’s newcomers.
Peder Fretheim, a resident of Walla Walla, commented: “[Bitcoin’s] not used in legitimate business. It’s used for two things: transactions you want to hide from the law and speculation. ”
Another major concern for residents is that the mining facility will consume electricity that should be dedicated to the locals. In reference to electricity usage, resident Robb Lincoln told Port commissioners, “[mining] extracts electricity and creates wealth for the owner with no trickle down.”
Similar emotions have echoed in other parts of the country. The city council in Plattsburgh, a city in Clinton County, New York, passed a moratorium per which no new crypto-mining companies can set up businesses in the city for the next year-and-a-half due to rising concerns over electricity consumption.
Mining companies are constantly seeking locations that have cheap electricity rates, as mining is an energy-intensive activity. The crypto sector is still in its developing stages, and countries around the world are beginning to formulate policies that would provide favorable conditions for miners. Walla Walla residents may generally oppose mining projects, but the Port is trying to strike a balance it seems, and in the course of a few years, the sector could be generating jobs and strengthening the local economy.
Will crypto sector help in uplifting the economy of Walla Walla County? Share your views in the comments section.
Images via ABC, Mapbiquity