Crypto miners keep busy ahead of halving with accelerated machine buys

Public mining companies have committed about $750 million to buy machines in the last couple months, BlocksBridge Consulting data shows

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While Marathon Digital extended its hash rate lead on North American competitors in the past month, Riot Platforms and Bitfarms are among those looking to catch up via major machine buys ahead of the bitcoin halving.

Meanwhile, Hut 8 recently closed its merger with US Bitcoin Corp in a move executives have said helps the firm not only boost mining capacity, but further diversify its revenue streams. 

The plethora of miner moves comes as the next bitcoin halving looms. Slated for April, industry watchers expect the event that cuts per-block miner awards from 6.25 bitcoin (BTC) to 3.125 BTC to put stress on industry players.

“It seems like the upcoming halving and this year’s market rebound from the 2022 bottom has bolstered mining companies’ capital expenditure,” BlocksBridge Consulting said in a Thursday research post

This year, a dozen public mining companies have placed orders for Bitcoin (BTC) mining machines. According to data from BlocksBridge’s resource The MinerMag, these orders total more than 70 exahash per second (EH/s) in capacity.

The commitments made in 2023 amount to roughly $1.2 billion, with about $750 million in deals inked over the past two months. 

Who has been most aggressive?

Dan Weiskopf, a co-portfolio manager of the Amplify Transformational Data Sharing ETF (BLOK), previously told Blockworks that large-scale miners “need to be bold and think two steps ahead of [their] peers” — adding some in the space “will not survive the halving.”

The largest miner purchase of the year came from Riot Platforms on Monday, in the form of 66,560 MicroBT machines for $290.5 million. The largest hash rate purchase in the company’s history, it amounts to about 18 EH/s of mining capacity, Riot said. 

Riot’s deployed hash rate was 12.4 EH/s at the end of November, the company said Wednesday. 

The company can purchase up to 265,000 more MicroBT miners on the same terms in the future, which would add 75 EH/s to the company’s self-mining capacity.

Bitfarms has also added miners, last week buying nearly 36,000 Bitmain T21 miners as part of “a transformative fleet upgrade plan.” The buy, as well as an option to purchase offer a pathway to increase the miner’s hashrate — at 6.3 EH/s on Nov. 27 — to 17 EH/s by the latter half of next year.

“This strategy is expected to significantly increase efficiencies along with lower unit production costs and dramatic hashrate growth, positioning us well for the upcoming halving and beyond,” Bitfarms CEO Geoff Morphy said in a statement.

CleanSpark is another miner set to add substantial hash rate, making a deal in October to buy 4.4 EH/s worth of Antminer machines. The company reported a hashrate of about 10.1 EH/s at the end of November and expects to start adding the recently acquired machines in January. 

Hut 8 and US Bitcoin Mining Corp is now one company with an installed hash rate capacity of 7.5 EH/s. But Hut 8 CEO Jaime Leverton has said the company is “not here to simply chase exahash,” noting its focus on diversifying the business.

Read more: New-look Hut 8 eyes AI-related opportunities after merger

Marathon, Core Scientific in the lead 

While others look to quickly add hash rate, Marathon Digital continues to lead its North American rivals in that category. Core Scientific, which is expecting an exit from its bankruptcy by year’s end, is close behind.   

Marathon increased its domestic energized hash rate by 20% in November to 23.1 EH/s.  

The company, which has focused on expanding globally and diversifying its mining methods, has 2.5 exahash and 0.2 exahash online in Abu Dhabi and Paraguay, respectively. 

Core Scientific’s energized hash rate stood at 21.6 EH/s on Nov. 30.

Bitmain agreed to invest $53 million in the company in September as part of a deal that supplies Core Scientific with 27,000 Bitmain S19J bitcoin mining servers, or 4.1 EH/s of hashrate. 

Core Scientific CEO Adam Sullivan said in a statement, “we remain very well positioned for growth and value creation after our planned emergence from reorganization next month.” This comment comes as the company anticipates receiving 6.6 EH/s worth of bitcoin miners over the next seven months.

Marathon Digital and Core Scientific last month produced 1,151 BTC and 954 BTC, respectively. CleanSpark generated 666 bitcoins, while Riot followed with 552 BTC.


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