Bison Seeks to Freeze MineOne’s Proceeds from Wyoming Sales

Bison added Bitmain as an additional defendant last year in the case against MineOne

This article first appeared in Miner Weekly, BlocksBridge Consulting’s weekly newsletter curating the latest news in bitcoin mining and data analysis from TheMinerMag. Subscribe to receive in your inbox once a week.

blocksbridge leaderboard banner

MineOne, the bitcoin mining operator in Cheyenne, Wyoming halted by the Biden administration last month due to national security concerns, has allegedly provided “categorically false” representations when selling two Wyoming sites to CleanSpark before the White House’s emergent executive order.

That is according to Bison Blockchain, a Wyoming-based operation that had legal problems with MineOne as well. In May 2023, Bison accused MineOne of breach of contract and demanded $39 million in damages, among other things. 

Now, following the recent news that CleanSpark would purchase the two sites from MineOne, Bison filed an emergency motion on May 15, petitioning the court to issue a protective order and freeze the proceeds that MineOne may receive from CleanSpark.

CleanSpark announced the $18 million Wyoming site purchase on May 9, four days before the Biden administration issued an executive order demanding MineOne to divest its assets because the sites – owned by Chinese nationals – were close to a nearby U.S. Air Force base. 

In the emergency motion, Bison alleged that MineOne provided “intentional misrepresentations (fraud)” in the purchase and sale agreement with CleanSpark, where MineOne allegedly said:

“There is no litigation pending or threatened against Seller that arises out of Seller’s ownership or operation of the Property.”

Bison v.s. MineOne

The story behind MineOne and Bison – just like many other legal disputes in the mining industry – stemmed from bullish dreams of the 2021 market rally, which unraveled into a series of complications during the following bear market.

Founded by Michael Murphy, Emory Patterson, and Neil Phippen, the Bison team won a bid from Black Hills Energy (BHE) for up to 75 MW of electrical power in Cheyenne in September 2021. Their goal was to build the largest mining facility in Wyoming, so the team spent the next few months negotiating a PPA with the power provider while securing land leases for the project. 

During that period, Bison said it began discussions with MineOne to form a partnership in developing the North Range and Campstool sites. 

In June 2022, the two sides entered into a service contract where MineOne would finance and own the developments, while Bison would be contracted for the implementation and the subsequent operation phases, given the PPA it secured and its relationships on the power side.

Bison said MineOne was unwilling to pay for its work upfront, so they agreed that payment for Bison’s work up to that point would be spread out over the operating phase after the infrastructure was complete.  

The collaboration then got off to a bumpy start. 

Chinese work ethics

Bison said that soon after it received necessary regulatory approval and the reassignment of its PPA to MineOne, it was notified by BHE on June 16, 2022, that MineOne had violated the PPA by issuing a press release without prior approval.

As it turns out, the press release in question was sent out on June 15 by Bit Origin, a Nasdaq-listed bitcoin mining company that changed its name from China Xiangtai Food just a month before. According to Bison, when asked about this, Jiaming Li, co-founder of MineOne and a Chinese national, downplayed the severity of the violation in a response he sent from his Bit Origin email, where he also served as president.

Yet within a month after Bison broke ground at the North Range site in October, it received an email containing a report from Microsoft’s National Security team, which had already been sent to the U.S. government. The report recommended additional due diligence on Bit Origin, raising concerns about its Chinese ownership and proximity to Microsoft’s campus and the F.E Warren Air Force base.

However, at that point, the MineOne team, seemingly unhappy with the project’s progress, sent its own personnel to the site in a bid to accelerate the development. Bison argued that the delay was caused by third-party vendors that were out of its control. 

In the following months, Bison alleged that MineOne sent multiple staff, many of whom were Chinese nationals and out-of-state workers, to the project site to assume a leadership role, interfering and undermining Bison’s work with the intention of a “subversive and sophisticated takeover.”

On one occasion, according to Bison, a staffer sent by MineOne told Patterson that “he needs to learn more about the Chinese work ethic” during the Christmas holiday in 2022.

“Bitmain wants you out. Completely.”

Bison said MineOne struck a service agreement with Bitmain around January 2023  – without involving Bison – to be the operator of the two sites hosting nearly 10,000 S19XPs for Bitmain. Bison said it was later informed by MineOne that Bitmain would want to implement hydro-cooling in the Campstool site and install its AntSentry firmware.

Bison alleged that MineOne told them in March 2023 that their team would be replacing Bison’s as operator of the North Range, saying on a GoogleMeet call:

“He [referring to a Bitmain executive or co-founder] doesn’t want you to be the host and the manager….he [Bitmain] wants you out. Completely.”

Later that month, according to Bison, the MineOne team proposed an amendment to their initial service agreement where Bison would not be allowed to operate the North Range and the Campstool site and would not receive the agreed-upon compensation tied to those services.

In addition, under the amended agreement, Bison would no longer have its “Right of First Refusal or buy-out in the event another entity purchases the development.” The amendment further outlined a reduced scope of work for Bison and hence a reduced compensation package. 

Following what they described as a “hostile site takeover by Chinese foreign nationals,” Bison filed a lawsuit against MineOne and Bit Origin, demanding compensation damage of nearly $39 million stemming from the alleged breach of contract. In October 2023, it named Bitmain as an additional defendant. 

Regulation News

  • Paraguay seizes 2,738 ASICs as power theft crackdown continues – Cointelegraph

Hardware and Infrastructure News

  • Core Scientific Rejects CoreWeave’s $1B Acquisition Offer – TheMinerMag
  • Cipher to Acquire New Texas Bitcoin Mining Site for $2.5M – TheMinerMag

Corporate News

  • BitFuFu Appoints Chief Financial Officer – Link
  • Trial Begins for $575 Million HashFlare Crypto Mining Fraud Defendants – Decrypt
  • Court Sides with Katena Confirming Arbitration over Coinmint – TheMinerMag
  • Bitfarms Receives $17 Million VAT Refund in May – TheMinerMag
  • Riot Nets $7.3M Power Credits in First Month Post Bitcoin Halving – TheMinerMag

Financial News

  • Tether Invests $100 Million in Bitcoin Miner Bitdeer – TheMinerMag
  • Riot Platforms Falls After the Bitcoin Miner Is Targeted by Short-Seller Kerrisdale – CoinDesk


  • A deeper look at Riot’s ‘hostile’ bid to take over Bitfarms – Blockworks
  • INTERVIEW: What You Need To Know About Bitcoin Mining With Shanon Squires – The Mining Pod
  • AI’s Insatiable Data-Center Demand Makes Crypto Miners Targets – Bloomberg