The vast majority of Navarro County residents were first introduced to the concept of cryptomining in April of 2022 when the announcement that the largest bitcoin mine in the world would be located in Navarro County.
Several City and County leaders spoke before and after Riot Block Chain’s then CEO, Chad Harris, about the size of the project and about the impact it would have on the area economy.
The proposed 256-acre project, located on FM 709, was purchased from a private land owner.
The location was selected because it is close to water needed to cool the computers which perform computations in order to find digital currency known as bitcoin. Electrical access is also located near to the facility, which is necessary to run the specialized computers.
Different forms of bitcoin are known by a variety of names, but bitcoin is its own digital currency. First created in 2009, bitcoin is just one of thousands of cryptocurrencies. More than 40 have a market capitalization of more than a billion dollars.
Bitcoins are traded on stock exchanges, but their value is volatile especially because they aren’t tangible.
The stock price of Riot Block Chain now known as RIOT Platforms traded at $71.33 per share in February of 2021 The stock price had fallen to just over $5.50 per share in October of 2022, when the company broke ground on a 1 GW facility in Navarro County.
The stock traded at approximately $10 per share as of Oct. 27, 2023.
However, some Navarro County residents are concerned about more than the rate of monetary return for those who invest in bitcoin.
Members of the Concerned Citizens of Navarro County and the Texas Coalition Against Cryptomining are worried about the toll that bitcoin mining will have on the environment, the Texas power grid, area water supply, and the bottom lines of everyone who lives near the mine.
“These machines run hot, a lot of water is required to keep them cool,” said Jackie Sawicky during a moderated town hall held in Corsicana Tuesday night. Sawicky is the founder of Texas Coalition Against Cryptomining.
Sawicky was joined by environmental activist Adrian Shelley and Professor Ed Hirs, lecturer at the University of Houston. Hirs specializes in the economics of energy, and was named as the inaugural University of Houston Energy Fellow.
Hirs discussed the drain crypto mining causes on the energy grid in Texas. This “industry” is unsustainable he said.
Sawicky stated local residents are already paying the cost associated with the mine, although it isn’t yet fully online.
Sawicky also highlighted that Riot Platforms reported profits in August of more than $37 million.
“They were paid to turn off their operation and then sold that energy back to the grid for a profit,” she said.
The computers can be air cooled or immersed in a mineral oil solution and surrounded by water to reduce the wear and tear on the machines caused by the heat of continued processing.
Although it is not yet known how much water RIOT will need, the state of Texas requires that a business be provided with water and utilities.
Members of the Corsicana City Council and Navarro County’s Economic Development Director, John Boswell, as well as Corsicana City Manager, Connie Standridge were invited to attend the town hall, but both declined.
Standridge said the City of Corsicana can produce 24.25 million of gallons per day and produces seven million gallons per day more than required for the city’s needs.
The town hall, was just one of several events planned during the “Week of Action” to highlight the impact of bitcoin mining on the world, the state of Texas and Navarro County.
Other events included attending Corsicana City Council and Navarro County Commissioners meeting, a protest at the site of the bitcoin mine now under construction, and a day of communication.
The day of communication’s purpose was to encourage residents to ask for another town hall meeting with government leaders to reevaluate the value of having the bit coin mine in Navarro County.
Sawicky and members of the TCAC were joined by members of Greenpeace organization during a majority of the events during the Week of Action.
Greenpeace, an environmental non-profit organization, is producing a documentary about issues with the bitcoin mining industry.
The protest at the mine totaled 13 people in attendance. Corsicana City Manager Connie Standridge reported that the city had received a total of three calls, two from within Navarro County asking for a town hall.