(Bloomberg) — Crypto mining company Bitfarms Ltd. has made an about-face on its holding strategy and sold 3,000 Bitcoin for $62 million over the past week to boost its liquidity amid the record-breaking bear market. It’s one of the first self-proclaimed Bitcoin hoarding miners to turn away from accumulating mined coins.
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The Toronto-based company is the latest of the public mining companies that have had to sell their crypto assets to stay afloat. With the recent market rout, other miners may see their strategy of holding onto mined coins coming under pressure as it gets more difficult for the sector to raise capital from the stock market and repay debts.
In April, Riot Blockchain Inc., one of the largest public miners by market cap and a long-time holder, started selling Bitcoin. Large-scale miners like Riot and Marathon Digital Holdings Inc. hold on to their mined coins and can serve as a proxy for coin prices, attracting investors who do not want to directly hold onto Bitcoin.
Bitfarms is “no longer HODLing all our daily BTC production,” said Jeff Lucas, CFO of Bitfarms. The company bought 1,000 coins five months ago at the average price of $43,200. The miner’s Bitcoin holdings are down by 47% with 3,349 coins still on its balance sheet. Bitcoin climbed above $21,600 on Tuesday as cryptocurrencies get a reprieve from the recent sell-off.
The company is one of the largest miners by computing power in North America. “In consideration of extreme volatility in the markets, we have continued to take action to enhance liquidity and to de-leverage and strengthen our balance sheet,” Lucas said in a statement.
The company sold 1,500 coins last week and used a portion of the proceeds to reduce its Bitcoin-backed credit facility with crypto merchant bank Galaxy Digital Holdings Ltd.
Other major public Bitcoin miners are selling large amounts of their holdings as well. Core Scientific Inc., Riot and Argo Blockchain Plc have sold 2,598 coins, 250 and 427, respectively. Mining stocks have been in a sharp decline as Bitcoin prices dropped further in the recent weeks.
Bitfarms’ move came at a time when public Bitcoin miners are selling their coins at a much faster pace. The top 28 public mining companies, which contribute about 20% of the computing power to mine Bitcoin, sold 4,271 coins in May, an 329% increase than the previous month and the miners are likely to sell even more in June, according to data from public filings compiled by research firm Arcane Crypto.
Public mining companies may also be selling more compared to private miners since they could keep a larger share of their production during the bull market by tapping into financial markets, said Jaran Mellerud, mining analyst at Arcane Crypto said.
The miners are some of the biggest whales, holding around 800,000 Bitcoin, according to data from Coin Metrics, of which public miners own 46,000. “If they are forced to liquidate a considerable share of these holdings, it could contribute to pushing the Bitcoin price further down.” Mellerud said.
(Updates with additional data and analysis on Bitcoin sales beginning in the seventh paragraph.)
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