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What’s Happening with Bitcoin Mining in China?

Bitcoin Miners in United States Warehouse

In late May, the Chinese government cracked down on crypto mining sending markets into a crash over the past month. The crackdown follows a series of policy announcements aimed at curbing crypto mining operations due to environmental concerns. However, the recent clampdown is nothing new but merely a reiteration of regulations proposed years ago. The Chinese central bank has been concerned with cryptocurrency’s growing popularity because it directly challenges the nation’s current financial stability. To protect the economy from the wild volatility of the crypto market, Beijing halted the facilitation of crypto payments from leading financial institutions in the country and doubled down on bitcoin mining regulations as well. This has set off what many are calling “the great mining migration.” The crypto mining exodus has already begun with new and used cryptocurreny miners flooding the market, and many believe the rigs will be relocated to North America. 

This is an end to an era for China, which has hosted 65% – 75% of the world’s hash rate. Due to its established technology, supply chain, and cheap electricity, parts of the country were ideal for large scale mining operations. Regions like inner Mongolia, Xinjiang, Sichuan, and parts of Yunnan were major hubs for mining rigs. Since the crackdown, province leaders have provided two months for miners to clear out. In addition, cryptocurrency prices have plummeted. Earlier in the year, Bitcoin peaked at $64k and is now sitting just under $36k. Though there are several variables responsible for the heavy decline, it would be difficult to deny China’s giant impact on the market. Despite China’s anchored stance on crypto, miners are looking to relocate to the United States and Canada. Texas is now a potential location for the miners in exodus from China because of its libertarian regulatory environment and abundant cheap green energy. In addition, Texas has the cheapest electricity in the United States. The exodus stresses the opportunity for miners to diversify their global hashrate. This migration provides the bridge for other countries to implement small crypto zones and further expose people to digital assets.  

Since the inception of the Bitcoin, studies have shown that there has been an astronomical surge in carbon emissions. This undermines President Xi Jinping’s promise to make China carbon neutral by 2060. Thanks to the heavy rain during China’s summer season, miners were able to rely on sustainable power sources to fuel the rigs. However, the arid winters caused miners to seek out an alternative cheap electricity source: coal. Burning coal to create currency has quickly become a huge factor for the mining exodus. In addition, many believe that the Chinese Communist Party is speculative and apprehensive toward anything outside of their control. The crackdown was a result of these factors. Now, some of the world’s largest mining farms are halting operations in China and migrating across the globe to set up shop in other countries. 

How Long Does it Take to Mine One Bitcoin?

Most Bitcoin miners join a mining pool, sharing the risks and rewards; a single mining rig could take several years to mine one Bitcoin.

In brief

  • Bitcoin mining is a process that sees high-powered computers compete to discover a Bitcoin block and earn rewards for doing so.
  • Miners generally use specialized equipment such as ASIC mining rigs.
  • Going solo can be slightly more efficient for miners, but is also riskier since the rewards come less frequently.

Bitcoin (BTC) uses the Proof of Work (PoW) consensus algorithm as the basis of its security. This means that like many other cryptocurrencies, a network of cryptocurrency miners is used to discover blocks and add pending transactions to them, to render them irreversible.

The block discovery process, which takes approximately 10 minutes per block, also results in the minting of a fixed number of new Bitcoin per block. This is currently set at 6.25 BTC per block, but halves approximately every four years (210,000 blocks), reducing the number of Bitcoin minted with each newly discovered block.

This BTC is provided as an incentive to the miner (or miners if using a mining pool) that discovered the block.

How long it takes to mine 1 BTC

Although it takes 10 minutes to discover each block and each block yields a 6.25 BTC reward for the miner that successfully discovered it, it’s important to understand that the entire Bitcoin mining network is essentially competing in this block discovery process.

This means that only a single miner in the entire mining network will actually successfully discover the block—and since there are potentially tens of thousands of Bitcoin miners in operation, the odds of single-handedly discovering a block is quite low.

For this reason, the vast majority of Bitcoin miners work together as part of a mining pool, combining their hash rate to stand a better chance of discovering a block. Then, regardless of which miner in the pool actually discovers the block, the rewards are distributed evenly throughout the pool.

Consequently, a miner that contributes 1% of a pool’s hash rate, will also receive 1% of the block rewards it accrues.

Bitcoin Hash rate share
F2Pool is currently the most dominant Bitcoin mining pool, with a 16.6% hash rate share. (Image:

F2Pool is currently the largest pool by hash rate share, contributing around 26.73 EH/s of the total Bitcoin hash rate of 134.6 EH/s. This 19.9% hash rate share essentially means that around 19.9% of all newly minted BTC are mined by this pool—equivalent to 179.1 BTC per day (out of a total of 900 BTC distributed to all miners per day).

An individual miner that contributes 1% of the pool’s hash rate (~267 PH/s) would earn approximately 1.79 BTC per day. This means a miner would need close to 149.2 PH/s of hash rate to mine an average of 1 BTC per day at current difficulty levels.


To put this into perspective, this is the equivalent of running 2,331 of the latest 64TH/s Antminer S17e ASIC miners, which were released in November 2020. This setup would likely cost somewhere in the order of $1.86 million, assuming an average unit cost of $799/ea. This would also prove somewhat challenging, since the Antminer S17e is currently sold out (as of December 2020), and is only available at a markup via resellers.

For those with a smaller budget, it would take a single Antminer S19 Pro (an older generation, but widely available unit) a total of 1,356 days to generate 1 BTC in rewards when working with a mining pool—that’s the equivalent of generating 0.00073 BTC/day in rewards, or around $13.28/day at current prices ($18,200/BTC).

To calculate how long it would take another mining rig to generate 1 BTC in rewards, you can simply plug its hash rate into the following equation: 1 / (hash rate (in PH/s)) * 0.0066. This result will produce the number of days it will take to generate 1 BTC in rewards at current difficulty levels.

Can Bitcoin miners go solo?

Although most Bitcoin miners tend to focus their efforts as part of a mining pool, it’s also possible to go it alone.

Unlike Bitcoin mining pools, which essentially guarantee smaller regular payouts and eliminate most of the risks involved with Bitcoin mining, solo mining is more of a gamble—but can also be more rewarding. Since solo miners don’t need to pay any mining pool fees, the overall mining profitability can be slightly higher than working with a pool, particularly for those running a sizeable mining operation.

Statistically speaking, a solo miner looking to generate 1 BTC per day would need to contribute just over 0.11% of the total Bitcoin hash rate. As we previously mentioned, this is equivalent to around 149.2PH/s or the combined output of 2,334 Antminer S17e mining units. On average this mining operation would discover a block yielding a 6.26 BTC reward every 6.25 days, which averages out to 1 BTC/day.

Because even gigantic mining operations with over 2,000 rigs would take almost a week to discover a single block, miners with just a few machines would likely go years without discovering a block, making the practice extremely risky in most cases.

Bitcoin mining in 2020 and beyond

Previously one of the largest Bitcoin mining pools by hash rate, the OKEx pool saw a 99.5% drop off in activity between October and November 2020, after the exchange halted withdrawals following reports that a crucial private key holder could not be reached.

The OKex pool has since seen its SHA256 hash rate recover considerably, and currently sits at 196.8 PH/s with over 3,400 active miners—a more than tenfold increase over its November lows.

With massive institutional investors like Grayscale, PayPal, and Cash App now buying up more than 100% of all newly-issued Bitcoin, and increasing sums of BTC locked up as wrapped tokens on other blockchains (such as Ethereum and Tron), demand for Bitcoin has increased considerably in 2020.

As a result, the price of Bitcoin has been driven up by more than 150% since the start of the year, reaching new all-time highs value on some platforms.