A bitcoin mining behemoth makes buy to get even bigger

Marathon Digital is set to add its first fully-owned sites in Texas and Nebraska as part of a $179 million cash deal

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Marathon Digital expects to add 390 megawatts to its bitcoin mining capacity via an acquisition that could spur the doubling of its hash rate in the next couple years.

The Florida-based miner is buying two bitcoin mining facilities — in Granbury, Texas and Kearney, NE — from Generate Capital affiliates for $178.6 million in cash, the company said in a Tuesday news release. 

The move is set to give Marathon Digital — whose mining capacity is now mostly hosted by third-parties — its first fully-owned sites. Just 3% of the company’s 584 megawatts of capacity are housed in sites that it owns and operates. That will change to 45% after the deal closes. 

In addition to expanding operational capacity, the transaction is set to allow Marathon to reduce its bitcoin production costs at the sites by roughly 30% and “capitalize on energy hedging opportunities,” Marathon CEO Fred Thiel said in a statement. 

“For the past year, Marathon has been vertically integrating as we transition into a more sophisticated and mature organization with a diversified portfolio of bitcoin mining technologies and assets, and the acquisition of these sites is the next step in that evolution,” Thiel added.

Marathon Digital is North America’s largest miner by hash rate — increasing its domestic energized hash rate by 20% in November to 23.1 exahashes per second (EH/s). Core Scientific, which intends to exit its bankruptcy by year’s end, was close behind at 21.6 EH/s as of Nov. 30. 

The latest buy gives Marathon a chance to double its hash rate to roughly 50 EH/s in the next 18 to 24 months, the company said Tuesday. 

The expected increase comes as competitors have also plotted major growth ahead of the next bitcoin halving, slated for April, when per-block mining rewards are reduced from 6.25 bitcoin (BTC) to 3.125 BTC.   

Read more: Crypto miners keep busy ahead of halving with accelerated machine buys

Riot Platforms earlier this month made the largest hash rate purchase in the company’s history, acquiring 66,560 MicroBT machines for $290.5 million. 

Riot’s deployed hash rate was 12.4 EH/s at the end of November. But the company said options to buy more MicroBT machines could help it add 75 EH/s to the company’s self-mining capacity in the long term.

Also in recent weeks, Bitfarms bought 36,000 Bitmain T21 miners as part of “a transformative fleet upgrade plan,” and the merger between Hut 8 and US Bitcoin Corp closed

This isn’t Marathon’s first big move of the year. 

It has focused on expanding globally and diversifying mining methods in recent months — now with 2.5 EH/s and 0.2 EH/s online in Abu Dhabi and Paraguay.


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