Bitcoin (BTC) miner Argo Blockchain’s (ARBK) raised 2022 hashrate guidance to 5.5 exahash per second (EH/s), an almost 50% increase from previous guidance of 3.7 EH/s, mostly driven by mining rigs that use Intel’s (INTC) new chips.
“With our mining operations at Helios [the company's flagship mining facility located in Dickens County, Texas] expected to commence in May, along with the development of custom mining machines using Intel’s next-generation Blockscale ASIC chips, Argo is well-positioned to continue its growth with a focus on delivering for our shareholders,” said CEO Peter Wall in a statement. During an earnings conference call, Wall noted that about 33% of the projected hashrate will come from Intel-powered mining rigs.
On April 4, Chip giant Intel launched its second-generation bitcoin mining chip, called “Intel Blockscale ASIC,” which will offer miners more efficient mining rigs than most models available in the market. Bitcoin miners Argo Blockchain, Hive Blockchain (HIVE) and Griid Infrastructure as well as giant Block (formerly Square) will be among the first customers to receive the new Intel Blockscale ASIC.
Having Intel in the mining rig industry is "incredibly important," Wall said during the company's earnings conference call. "It gives the bitcoin mining space more credibility to have a blue-chip company like Intel coming in, but it also will benefit the industry to have a more diverse supply chain and more options for ASICs and also to have chips available as opposed to fully-baked machines," he said. Argo will use a third-party manufacturer to build mining machines using Intel's chips.
"We think our custom mining rig, which is going to use these Intel mining chips, is going to be significantly cheaper on a cost per terahash basis than what's currently available off the shelf for the market, and this will allow us to further increase our hash rate and competitive markets," he said.
The miner also said the initial 200 megawatt (MW) out of its capacity of up to 800MW for its Helios project is expected to be operational in May. The additional capital spending to complete this first phase is expected to be in the range of $125 million to $135 million, which will be funded mainly through debt and proceeds from selling a portion of mined bitcoins each month. During the conference call the company official said it is evaluating machine financing options for the debt funding and doesn't expect any equity raise this year.
The majority of the capital allocated for the first phase's infrastructure build and Bitmain machines has already been paid. Most of the rest will be used for Intel's mining chips, which Argo has already paid a deposit for, Wall said during the conference call.
Beyond 2022, Argo expects to grow its hashrate to more than 20 EH/s over the next few years as the additional 600MW capacity at its Helios facility comes online.
Argo also reported 2021 sales of $100.1 million, which beat the average analyst estimate of $98.3 million, according to FactSet data. Its 2021 net income was $41.5 million, lower than the consensus estimate of $45.3 million.
Shares of the miner surged about 15% in London on Thursday before falling back. Its American Depositary Receipts were up about 7%, outperforming its mining peers, while bitcoin has been mostly little changed around $39,000.
UPDATE (April 28, 13:50 UTC): Adds comments from conference call throughout, hashrate guidance break down in second paragraph.
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