US bitcoin mining giant ‘looking at Africa’ amid expansion efforts

Bitcoin miners can incentivize the buildout of the continent’s power sources by serving as the customers of such projects, Marathon Digital exec says

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Bk87/Shutterstock modified by Blockworks

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North America’s largest public crypto miner has made global expansion a part of its strategy.

While Florida-based Marathon Digital has already branched out to the United Arab Emirates and Paraguay in recent months, it also has its eye on a continent seeing an influx of miners.

“We are looking at Africa,” said Charlie Schumacher, vice president of corporate communications at Marathon Digital. “We believe that bitcoin mining is, among other things, a technology solution for the energy sector, and Africa may be a great place to prove out this thesis.”

Ethiopia has seen an increased inflow of miners recently as companies in the segment search for low-cost energy and ideal climate, Bloomberg has reported. It has become home to Chinese companies, for example, who were forced out of operating in their home country following a crypto mining ban in 2021.

Certain African countries have stranded or underutilized power, Schumacher told Blockworks.

“If we can attach bitcoin miners to these power sources, then we can increase the profitability of those power sources and ensure they stay online for the people who need them,” he said. 

“Across the continent, there is also a need for more power,” Schumacher added. “Bitcoin miners can incentivize the buildout of more power across the continent by serving as the first customer for new power projects.”

Marathon Digital, which has US operations in Texas, Nebraska and North Dakota, increased its hash rate in January to 26.4 exahashes per second (EH/s), a 7% month-over-month increase. 

Read more: A bitcoin mining behemoth makes buy to get even bigger

Last year, the company expanded into the United Arab Emirates through a joint venture with FS Innovation. It more recently, in November, partnered with Penguin Infrastructure Holding to establish a new operation near Paraguay’s Itaipu Dam

Marathon executives have said geographic diversity is one way the company can reduce costs ahead of the bitcoin halving slated in April — an event during which per-block rewards for miners are slashed in half. 

Read more: Bitcoin halving expected to hit on 4/20

As Marathon keeps watch on developments in Africa, one of its biggest competitors remains focused on building out its already sizable footprint in the US.

A spokesperson for Core Scientific told Blockworks that the company looks to execute its “pragmatic, multi-year growth plan” for an additional 372 megawatts of infrastructure at its data centers in Texas.

Core Scientific, which emerged out of bankruptcy last month, had an energized self-mining hash rate of 18.6 EH/s at the end of January.

“We continuously evaluate growth opportunities, both within and outside of the United States, and believe that a consistent and supportive regulatory framework is essential to the long-term success of bitcoin mining and the security of the bitcoin network,” the representative added.

Like Core Scientific, other large US public miners also appear to be prioritizing domestic expansion. Colorado-based Riot Platforms, with a deployed hash rate of 12.4 EH/s, operates mainly in Texas and has not disclosed plans to build sites in other countries. Las Vegas-headquartered CleanSpark, with a hash rate of 10.1 EH/s, recently bought facilities in Mississippi and Georgia.

Representatives for Riot Platforms and CleanSpark did not return a request for comment.


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