The mining giant Bitmain has suspended operations at its mining facility in Rockdale, Texas, according to a report from Texas Public Radio. When (and if) Bitmain will resume mining activities is up in the air.
Bitmain announced the Rockdale mining facility in August 2018, setting up in an Alcoa plant that had been used to smelt aluminum up until September 2008. At the time, Bitmain and the Rockdale Municipal Development District called the move a $500+ million investment, and anticipated that the new facility would bring in 400 local jobs within its first two years, with 137 "spin-off" jobs to come.
Milam County judge Steve Young issued a statement on January 10 saying that all Bitmain employees, apart from two engineers and the director of human relations, had been laid off, shrinking the already small staff of 15 employees. Young also estimated that the company had brought in 7,000 to 8,000 servers to the Alcoa plant, stating Bitmain had told him they would move forward with a "less ambitious facility."
When Bitmain plans to move forward with the less ambitious facility is unclear. The company spokesperson who talked with Young explained that the "right-sized team" would be able to "re-start the project at small scale anytime."
How this will impact the 10-year tax break on county taxes on real and personal property also remains to be seen. The tax break was meant to be an incentive for Bitmain to deliver on promised jobs and investment numbers, according to Texas Public Radio.
The Rockdale layoffs are the latest bad news in a string of Bitmain-related misfortune. In December 2018, it was believed that Bitmain would lay off 50 percent of its employees. In the same month, the company closed its artificial intelligence research and development center, Bitmaintech Israel, laying off 23 employees, including Bitmain's vice president for sales and marketing, Gadi Glikberg, who was head of the R&D center.
Just last week, Bitmain co-founders and co-CEOs Jihan Wu and Micree Zhan stepped down from their chief executive positions, reportedly to be replaced by Haichao Wang, the company's director of product engineering. The move came just months after it was reported that Wu would reposition and continue with the company as a co-director.