Lots of headlines focus on bitcoin mining's growth in North America, but a little farther south, Latin America is experiencing just as much if not more growth in its own mining industry. This livestream talks through the challenges, opportunities and general landscape of bitcoin mining in Latin America with two executives of mining companies in the region:

This conversation is essential for any miners or bitcoin investors who want to understand the full picture of bitcoin mining's growth in the Americas.

Video Recording

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Watch previous livestreams here.

Audio Version

Show Notes

Introductions (timestamp)

  • Juan Pinto, co-founder of Doctor Miner: mining since 2016 but started focusing on bitcoin in 2018. Doctor Miner started as a home miner and then expanded into large farms.
  • Nick Damico, CTO of BitPatagonia: started in 2017, BitPatagonia provides mining and blockchain solutions for Argentinian companies.

Current mining hubs in Latin America (timestamp)

  • El Salvador: very early stage, building geothermal power.
  • Venezuela and Paraguay (hydro-electric power) have larger mining operations.
  • Argentina has 40 known large mining operations.
  • Argentina has grown its mining capacity in response to country’s financial instability, home mining and mining imports are both increasing.
  • Venezuela has cheap electricity, leading to explosive growth in home and industrial mining.
  • Venezuela offers good prices around $0.025/kwh with over 90% uptime

Hashrate across Latin America (timestamp)

  • Argentina: 1 exahash, or 0.01% of the bitcoin network’s hashrate
  • Paraguay: 1-1.5 exahash
  • Venezuela: 2 exahash

Coronavirus and bitcoin mining (timestamp)

  • Last year, BitPatagonia ordered as many miners as possible. These miners were delayed 2 months due to lockdowns but deployed in September and October.
  • Government mandates shut off the power for a month, but BitPatagonia still had to pay the bills.
  • The pandemic was not taken seriously in Venezuela, operations remained online.

Challenges and advantages for Latin American miners (timestamp)

  • Sourcing miners and transformers is difficult, there are minimal roads and no bridges.
  • Climate increases/global warming might be a challenge for miner cooling in the future.
  • Cold weather, wild, and fiber optic infrastructure are the key advantages for BitPatagonia.
  • Everywhere, Shipping ASICs in is difficult and expensive.
  • Venezuela has a government body dedicated to regulating the mining industry
  • Venezuelan import processes are not clear, 33% tax rate for mining imports

Regulatory environments in Latin America (timestamp)

  • Licenses are required for the mining farm and for the miner itself.
  • Miners can partner with warehouse and factory owners and use their residual energy for mining.
  • Protection for miners has increased: police forces cannot seize mining machines and bitcoin from farms without regulator permission.
  • In Argentina, miners are required to pay taxes (relative to consumption and location).
  • Argentinean government randomly inspects farms.
  • Misconception: the political climate is unfavorable or dangerous.
  • The Venezuelan government is pro bitcoin mining.
  • Insurance policies for miners are being developed to attract foreign miners into the country.

Currency crises pushing interest into bitcoin mining (timestamp)

  • Cryptocurrency became popular in 2014 in Venezuela because the use of foreign currency was previously illegal
  • In Venezuela, miners are very common in houses and random retail stores, used to escape inflation
  • Binance Pool is popular because it has a p2p wallet; through this wallet, miners can exchange what they mine for common goods
  • In Argentina, GPU mining is more popular than ASIC mining
  • Freelancers in Argentina are charging in crypto
  • In Argentina, USDT and stable coins are popular for international transactions

Chinese miners relocating to Latin America (timestamp)

  • Chinese miners will struggle to find capacity in Argentina due regulatory challenges and competition with local miners for rackspace
  • 5-10% of Chinese hashrate is expected to move to South America
  • American and European miners are also expressing interest in moving into Venezuela

Biggest unrealized opportunities for mining in Latin America (timestamp)

  • LatAm has a large energy infrastructure and electrical grid, but miners are scared and misinformed about the political landscape
  • Venezuela has a lot of oil and gas turbines with 10,000 megawatts of unused power

Hashrate from Latin America by the next halving (timestamp)

  • 15-20% expected by next halving (2024)
  • Many companies and clients are already testing operations in South America.

Hosted by Zack Voell and Will Foxley