Argo Blockchain: New BTC miners will have difficulty finding success

As Bitcoin miners head into the new year, uncertainty exist as miners are unsure of the impact the halving will have on their overall earnings as the block reward subsidy gets cut in half. The uncertainty hasn’t halted the growth of crypto mining as throughout the fourth quarter of 2019, BTC continued to set new records for its network hash rate, a sign that BTC’s weak price performance didn’t dissuade miners. During this period, ASIC miner manufactures continued releasing more updates on their most popular mining rigs. 

We spoke with Peter Wall, vice president of operations at Argo Blockchain Plc (LON: ARB), to get his thoughts on what the industry can expect in 2020 and how Argo is positioning itself to remain successful. 

CoinGeek: With mining difficulty increasing, what is your strategy on managing your fleet of miners? How frequently are you phasing out older models in favor of next-gen mining rigs and out of the most recent entries into the market, which are you looking to purchase? 

Peter Wall: New machines are mostly revisions to the latest generations. The Antminer 17 series of mining machines – which came out this year – do the vast majority of our mining work, and we expect them to be at the leading edge of efficiency for 3-5 years, just like previous generations of Antminers. That being said, we are constantly evaluating our current machines and newer models available. 

Additionally, the biggest impact on efficiency is the chip size. 100% of our SHA-256 mining is done on 7nm chips while most of the market is still using the older generation, 16nm chips. This means we do not have the same urgency to phase out older models when adding new hardware.

CoinGeek: Lately, several miners have begun setting up new operations in Texas, Russia, and Central Asia. Do you have plans to expand into those areas? How is the business going in the regions that you are currently in?

Peter Wall: Business operations in Canada are going very well. We have no plans to move into other regions at this time, as our current facilities are operating extremely well.

CoinGeek: Since mid-August, BSV often has surpassed BTC in mining profitability. How do you see the trend playing out in 2020? What is your strategy on mining BTC vs. BSV vs. BCH?

Peter Wall: There have been moments where BCH has been more profitable—but on a weekly basis, BTC has consistently outperformed both BCH and BSV. We also don’t trade our holdings in real-time, so we aren’t affected by hourly or daily fluctuations. We are very comfortable mining BTC and plan to continue doing so going forward. 

Data provided by blockchain explorer Bitinfocharts and research by crypto exchange Binance shows BSV mining profitability on par or outperforming BTC mining profitability over the last 120 days. 

Source: Bitinfocharts

CoinGeek: How has the increase in mining difficulty and onboarding of new miners in 2019 impacted your business? Do you feel the growing wave of smaller mining operations coming online will continue or they will struggle then get swallowed up by more prominent firms such as yours?

Peter Wall: As BTC hash rate is so high, small miners have almost no impact on difficulty and total hashrate, so aren’t a concern for us. It’s like throwing a pebble into an ocean—almost no effect. As the majority of our machines are the latest generation of miners, the increase in mining difficulty hasn’t affected us nearly as much as other miners who are using older generations of machines in regards to mining efficiency.

It will be exciting to come back to this matter in about six months and have a look to see how the industry has evolved after the halving. While we at CoinGeek disagree with Peter’s direction on mining profitability, we agree with his views that new miners will have difficulty finding success in mining BTC. We thank Peter very much for the interview!

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