Streets of Abu Dhabi at dusk

BTC miner Marathon Digital to launch $400M Abu Dhabi mining facility

Marathon Digital Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: MARA) is set to open a new block reward mining facility in Abu Dhabi worth over $400 million.

In a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Marathon announced it had partnered with FS Innovation to form Abu Dhabi Global Markets. Under the new entity, the two companies will set up mining sites in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and mine BTC.

Initially, the new entity will set up and operate two mining sites comprising 250 MW in Abu Dhabi, with FS Innovation controlling 80% of the project. As the majority shareholder, FS will appoint four directors to the board of the new entity, while Marathon will select one. As per the filing, the two sites are estimated to cost the two companies $406 million.

BTC mined from the two sites will be distributed to the two companies twice a month.

Marathon is one of a few BTC miners still expanding after a rough 2021 saw the collapse of some of the most prominent players in the sector. Core Scientific (NASDAQ: CORZW) and Compute North were some of the big casualties of the bear market. Many others, including Argo Blockchain (NASDAQ: ARBK), have been clutching at straws and taking on big loans to keep running.

For Marathon, the Abu Dhabi venture is a shift in its strategy. The company has long relied on hosting companies to mine BTC and doesn’t develop its own facilities.

With the bear market, this strategy has failed to hold up for most miners, with several hosting companies being involved in legal battles with miners. A month ago, Blockware was sued by its client for fraud and breach of contract for allegedly lying about its mining capacity.

Core Scientific was also embroiled in a legal battle with the defunct lender Celsius Network, eventually ending in the bankrupt miner shutting down 37,000 mining rigs owned by the lender.

For most miners, the Achilles heel was their massive loans which they borrowed when BTC was flying high. As BTC lost 80% of its value, the creditors came calling, and the miners couldn’t meet their obligations. This was true for Compute North which filed for bankruptcy after it failed to pay off its loan with Generate Lending LLC.

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