Weekly happenings in the mining industryLast Wednesday, a group of environmental NGOs sent a letter to the White House calling for the US Government to implement stricter regulations on bitcoin miners. The letter was signed by Greenpeace, which leads Ripple's co-founder Chris Larsen's $5 million "Change the Code" advertising campaign to get Bitcoin over on proof-of-stake.This letter comes just two weeks after a group of House Democrats sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) cautioning the agency about the environmental effects of bitcoin mining, which the Bitcoin Mining Council responded to a few days later.SEC added ASIC manufacturer Canaan to its list of scrutinized Chinese companies, which could eventually force the company to delist from the Nasdaq.Nvidia must pay a settlement of $5.5 million to the SEC for not informing investors about the mining segment's importance for its revenues. Nvidia has tried to split the mining segment from the rest of its customer base by putting hash rate limiters on some of its graphics cards. Still, on Saturday, the software company NiceHash tweeted that it has developed a workaround for the hash rate limiter.While most of the industry focuses on what happens on the regulatory side in North America, things are also happening in other parts of the globe. The southern part of Argentina has been suffering power shortages because subsidized residential electricity rates have attracted a significant underground mining industry. The Argentine government is now attempting to map out the mining industry in the country to get them to pay the higher industrial electricity rates and taxes.Bitfarms is currently constructing a 210 MW facility in Argentina, but it is located in a different part of the country where power is abundant, and the facility is also consuming power behind the meter at a power plant.2022 has not been a good year for Kazakh miners, as they have been blamed for the country's problems with the electrical grid, being heavily targeted by the country's regulators. The Kazakh government has now introduced even more power consumption reporting requirements for bitcoin miners.Argo's new facility in Texas has been energized and will start mining next week. The company expects this facility to use 200 MW by the end of the year, with access to add another 600 MW, making it one of the biggest facilities in North America. With this new facility, the company aims to almost triple its hashrate to 5.5 EH/s by the end of 2022. After collecting dust in storage since September, Argo's 20,000 Antminer S19j Pro will be happy to be finally put to work.Marathon announced that they may diverge from their hodl strategy and might start to sell some of its almost 10,000 bitcoin. One of the reasons many public miners pursue the mine-to-hodl strategy is because the bitcoin ETF market is underdeveloped, allowing these companies to serve as bitcoin investment vehicles, earning a valuation premium on the net asset value of the bitcoin they hodl. By allowing itself to sell some of its bitcoin, Marathon can fully exploit the liquidity of its balance sheet, which can prove to be essential in the coming months as capital markets dry up.
Mining stocks update: Complete bloodbathThe mining stocks bloodbath continued over the past seven days. When Argo's 19% decline is enough to secure its position as the best-performing mining stock over the past week, it's telling us how horrible the conditions are for mining stocks now.
Although things look grim market-wise, Argo announced some great news last week as they are finished constructing their flagship Texas facility and will begin installing machines there shortly. Their share price increased around 15% on the good news, so the stock would be more deeply red if it wasn't for this.Still, it's assuring that the company now has its massive immersion-cooled facility ready. We have warned that the plummeting bitcoin price combined with the continuous hashrate growth will lead to hard times for mining companies, which is also why these stocks have performed so terribly lately.Argo's immersion-cooling technology and cheap West-Texas electricity rates will give them low enough operating costs to handle the coming rough times. When times are tough for miners, the miners with the bitcoin production cost suffer firstly and are squeezed out of the market. The most important in this industry is surviving bear markets, and Argo has positioned itself well with its new facility.After looking at this week's "winners," we can now look at the worst-performing mining stocks. Cipher's stock is almost halved in just one week. Unlike most other mining companies on this list, Cipher has barely started mining with only 0.3 EH/s of capacity. The company has four sites in development in the US, hoping to increase its hashrate to 7.5 EH/s by the end of 2022. Their current low bitcoin production, combined with the current decreasing profitability of mining, gives them poor cash flow, at the same time as they have huge investments to make to build out their new facilities. Not a good combination during these market conditions, but their new $46.9 million debt financing deal with BlockFi should help.Stronghold's start to 2022 has been a complete disaster, as its share price is down 84% YTD. In addition to being pressured by the general market conditions, the company has completely failed to deliver on its expansion plans. Stronghold is not alone in underdelivering, as most public miners have grown much slower than planned. Read more in this article.So, where do we go now? With the plummeting bitcoin price, the profitability of these companies will continue to be under pressure. Still, most large mining companies have much lower operating costs than the industry average, so they should be able to survive the bear market. Some of these companies may even use the bear market as an opportunity to acquire the assets of struggling players. We will likely see a growing number of M&As in the industry in the coming months.