This is why miners are selling their bitcoin at levels not seen since 2019

Recent data shows a major increase in the amount of bitcoin moved by miners from the mining pool to crypto exchanges, but the price of the flagship cryptocurrency continues to show resilience. Selling volume by miners hit its highest level Friday since March 2019, according to blockchain data firm Glassnode. The day BlackRock filed for a spot bitcoin exchange-traded fund , selling volume jumped to its highest level since September 2017. This selling behavior, implied by miners moving mined bitcoin to exchanges, began at the end of May. Miners are still recovering from the brutal bitcoin sell-off in 2022, when the cryptocurrency fell 65% and dented their profitability. While bitcoin has been struggling at the $30,000 level after a momentous rally to start the year, it’s still up roughly 85% in 2023, which has led many miners to offload their bitcoin holdings to raise cash to fund their operations. “With bitcoin at $30,000 you have some miners who are selling everything they produce because they’re either trying to service debt, they’re trying to put a little cash on the balance sheet so they can buy more miners and expand because we have a halving coming in May of next year,” said Fred Thiel, CEO of Marathon Digital, a mining company. “For a lot of miners, the only way they can raise capital or any liquidity is through sales of bitcoin.” He added that many miners sold most of what they had in inventory in the spring and are now selling all the bitcoin they produce just to build cash on the balance sheet. A report issued by Standard Chartered on Monday estimated that the 12 largest listed miners sold 106% of mined bitcoin in the first quarter of this year, including stockpiles. Data for the second quarter will show a slight decrease to just under 100%, the report found. The 12 companies account for 20% of all bitcoin mining, Standard Chartered said. There are about 900 bitcoins mined a day, and the typical daily trading volume of the flagship crypto is between $7 billion and $10 billion, which means miners could sell 100% of what they’re producing today and it wouldn’t move the price of bitcoin much, Thiel said. It costs about $17,000 on average for a miner to produce one bitcoin. Miner selling shouldn’t weigh significantly on the price of bitcoin price, however, according to Thiel. “Bitcoin miners’ operating costs are fairly fixed, meaning that you’re paying a fixed price for your electricity — that’s what drives your marginal cost of production,” he said. “If the price of bitcoin goes up 60%, you can sell 40% less bitcoin and still have the same dollars in your pocket at the end of the month to pay your electric bill.” Getting ready for the halving With the halving — the market-moving event that comes roughly every four years and tends to drive a big bitcoin price rally — expected to come in spring 2024, there’s a race to add more computational power for miners, Thiel explained. This computational power is known as hash rate. Bitcoin’s hash rate reached an all-time high Saturday, according to Glassnode. If miners want to start getting a return on their investment, they need to accelerate the development of their facilities and capacity. If they don’t add more hash rate until May 2024, it’ll take twice as long to generate their return, according to Thiel. “It’s really about producing as much as you can now and then trying to liquidate what you can to maximize your balance sheet,” he said. The last halving took place in May 2020, just a few months after the last spike in bitcoin moving from miners to exchanges.

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