Inside China’s underground crypto mining operation, where people are risking it all to make bitcoin

Ben is mining for bitcoin in the Chinese province of Sichuan, hoping every day that he doesn’t get caught by the authorities.

Like other crypto miners who have gone underground since Beijing cracked down on the industry earlier this year, Ben — who asked only to be identified by his nickname to ensure his safety — is getting creative to evade detection.

Bitcoin mine in Sichuan, China

Ben has spread his mining equipment across multiple sites so that no one operation stands out on the country’s electrical grid. He has also gone “behind the meter,” drawing electricity directly from small, local power sources that are not connected to the larger grid, such as dams. He’s taken steps to conceal his geographic digital footprint, as well.

Ben tells CNBC that he is used to “getting around things” when it comes to running a business in China, but the last six months have really raised the stakes.

“We never know to what extent our government will try to crack down…to wipe us out,” Ben said.