This week’s news is dominated by developments on the regulatory front:
- Kazakhstan’s Digital Development Minister says the country is currently negotiating a $714 million USD investment in its cryptocurrency mining sector. As nations evaluate how to regulate the mining industry, large investments from mining firms playing regulatory arbitrage will certainly influence the conversation. In 2019, Kazakh regulators passed tax laws that rendered crypto mining earnings as tax-free provided they were not sold for fiat.
- A draft for a new cryptocurrency bill by the Russian Ministry of Finance is said to outline rules for Russian miners, prohibiting them from getting paid in cryptocurrencies. The bill also includes provisions that would only allow Russian citizens to possess cryptocurrencies if they inherit them or receive them as debtors of a bankrupt company or as compensation for winning a lawsuit.
- Cointelegraph has published a write-up about the geopolitical implications of cryptocurrency mining dominance as nation states take various approaches to dealing with the mining industry within their borders. Because mining is a hugely capital intensive industry, miners prefer jurisdictions with stability and predictability in the longer term. There also appears to be an interest in certain places to court miners to breathe new life into outmoded industry assets.
Here’s this week’s mining news:
- VC firm Digital Currency Group has unveiled its subsidiary, Foundry, that will provide financing and equipment procurement to North American mining ventures through a $100 million fund. They have also been operating their own mining operation under the radar since 2019. DGC believes that there is also a geopolitical implication to their efforts as there appears to be growing concern amongst policymakers about China’s share of global bitcoin production.
- Iran has reportedly shut down over a thousand unlicensed mining farms using subsidized electricity. Mining is currently a legal activity in Iran, though companies must receive a license to set up operations.
- Marathon Patent Group, a US-based publicly listed mining firm has signed a letter of intent to purchase Fastblock Mining, a mining-as-a-service company, for $22 million. Adding Fastblock’s ASICs will increase Marathon’s total output by 208 PH/s. This is in addition to their recently announced delivery of 1,300 ASICs with 1,000 more on the way.
Plenty of mining stories this week:
- It’s monsoon season and heavy rainstorms in China’s Sichuan province have affected the regions mining farms, dropping their average daily hashrate between 10% and 12%. This includes hashrate metrics from four of the world’s top pools: Poolin, F2Pool, BTC.com, and Antpool. While the rain helps generate excess hydroelectric power capacity, the flooding and mudslides can result in mining operations to temporarily pause their operations.
- US Bitcoin mining firm Riot Blockchain has purchased 8,000 additional Bitmain S19 Pro Antminers, due to begin delivery in January 2021 with the final units arriving in April next year. The additional hashing power is expected to bring Riot’s total hashrate to 1.45 EH/s.
- Mining industry expert Kristy-Leigh Minehan has dropped some intriguing info regarding a potential new entrant into the ASIC market. If true, this company’s offering will alleviate the existing supply chain woes plaguing the mining industry while delivering top tier products. We’ll continue to keep an ear to the ground.
- Layer1, the US based mining firm backed by Peter Thiel has been struck with a lawsuit for patent infringement in the Western District Court of Texas. The complaint alleges Layer1 violates a patent filed by Lancium LLC in March 2020 that described a method to shut down or start data centers in real time based on the cost of electricity.
Here’s what is going on this week in the mining industry:
- Kazakhstan is considering taxing crypto miners at a flat 15% rate in an effort to find new ways to fund infrastructure programs and offset the effect of COVID-19. According to Kazakhstan’s government report, 6% of global Bitcoin hashing power comes from the country.
- An paper published in the scientific journal Joule claims that Bitcoin mining accounts for 66% of total cryptocurrency mining, and that most estimates that take into account environmental impacts do not account for the remaining 34% of electricity usage by altcoin miners. The paper speculates on the climate impact of proof of work mining, which is a topic that has been studied and debated for some time. It’s worth noting that a large majority of Bitcoin mining utilizes renewable energy sources and this number will continue to increase as miners seek to increase efficiencies and lower their energy costs.
- Five Malaysian cryptocurrency miners were caught siphoning electricity from state-run sources by directly tapping power cables and avoiding usage meters.
- The stocks of two publicly traded Bitcoin mining firms, Riot Blockchain and Marathon Patent Group, have outperformed Bitcoin over the course of the last 12 months. This comes at a time of renewed interest in cryptocurrencies.
A light news week for the mining industry:
- Ethereum Classic (ETC) was hit with a 51% attack that reorged 4,000 blocks. The attacker is estimated to have spent $204,000 USD on hashing power to double spend 800,000 ETC (approximately $5.6M USD). This is the second attack on ETC in the span of a week.
- Bitmain delays ASIC shipments as the internal battle between its cofounders rages on. Shipments due for June and July delivery have been further delayed til September and October.