Industry Giants, BHP and Baosteel, Make First Iron Ore Trade for $14 Million Using Blockchain

Mining conglomerate, BHP Group has revealed that it has transacted a $14 million worth of iron ore trade through a blockchain-based platform which has been created by MineHub Technologies based in Canada.

The transaction involved BHP Group and China Baowu Steel Group, which is an offshoot of Chinese giant steelmaker China Baoshan Iron & Steel, which is mostly referred to as Baosteel.

Last month, BHP stated that it was in the process of piloting a blockchain-based iron ore trade with the Chinese conglomerate Baosteel.

In a statement shared exclusively with Bitcoin Exchange Guide, during the transaction process, BHP utilized the blockchain platform to process the contract terms virtually, exchange the documents as well as offer real-time cargo visibility.

The piloting of the blockchain-enabled trading by BHP is part of the firm’s plan to digitize its documentation procedures for its commodities trading fully. According to Michiel Hovers, who is BHP’s sales and marketing executive, the mining industry requires a paradigm shift when it comes to documentation. He said:

“The bulk commodity industry needs a digital revolution to reduce physical documentation processes.”

Baowu Steel, which is state-owned, has previously invested in blockchain technology in efforts to digitize its trade. Last month, the firm conducted what it said was the inaugural blockchain-enabled yuan-denominated foreign letter of credit (LC) with another mining giant called Rio Tinto. The firm used the Contour platform that has been developed on Corda technology R3, which is an enterprise-focused blockchain solutions firm.

BHP’s journey in the blockchain space can be traced back to 2017 after Vitalik Buterin, Ethereum founder announced that the mining giant was developing a blockchain-based application that will help in tracking natural resources.

In February last year, the mining leader in partnership with a Japanese based shipping firm NYK successfully tested blockchain tech.

The Canadian-based MineHub Technology explained that the BHP testing was just one of the many in the pipeline, which will involve its blockchain platform. The firm also stated that the testing comes at an opportune time when various crooked characters are taking advantage of the supply chain uncertainties brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Author: Joseph Kibe

Ethereum (ETH) Mining Pool, Ethmine, To Receive The $2.6 Million Transaction Fee Paid Out Mysteriously

After a four day wait, the Ethermine mining pool, in charge of verifying the abnormal multi-million transaction fees charged to send Ethereum last week, will distribute the funds to the miners. This follows the lack of response from the account holder who made the transaction.

According to a statement from Bitfly, the company behind the Ethmine pool, miners who were online at the time an unusual transaction took place, will receive the 10,668 ETH in tx fees paid (about $2.3 million at time of writing). After a five day wait and no response from the owners account, the transaction fee which was withheld by the exchange will now be distributed.

The multi-million dollar transfer fees

In the early morning of the London markets opening on Thursday of last week, a rather large transaction fee was noted by whale transfer aggregators leading to Bitfly suspending the distribution of the fees to miners yet. It was an abnormal fee that has never been witnessed before.

For a miniscule 350 ETH transaction from a whale account, the address paid close to $2.6 million in transaction fees at the time leaving the crypto world shocked. However, this was the second of such a transaction with China’s Spark Pool processing another abnormal ETH transaction – 0.55 ETH (~$140 USD) was sent for a $2.6 million transaction fee.

While no reports yet on what could have caused the wild variations in transaction fees, some analysts see this as a case of money laundering or extortion of some kind.

While the second transaction by Bitfly will take a totally different route as explained above, Spark Pool has locked the transfer fee from the miners and are looking for the best way forward on why such a transaction was made.

These two transaction fees break the record for the highest fees ever recorded on a blockchain by a long shot with a transaction fee of 236 ETH (~$130,000) paid in 2018 the previous record.

‘Many wrong senders’

Well, a number of people have come forward to claim the transaction was made by them but there is still no valid transaction id sent by any of the respondents. The official Twitter statement from the Bitfly Company reads,

“While multiple people claimed being the sender of this transaction none of them was able to produce a valid signature of the sending account.”

The distribution of the funds to the miners will be made to the miners according to a “hashrate snapshot took at the time (block #10241999) mined by our Ethermine pool”.

While this was the first time such a large move has occurred, Bitfly states that they will no longer withhold any transaction fee pay outs to miners despite the size of the transaction as it is “advertised policy.” It reads,

“Also we would like to make clarify that in the future we will no longer interfere in the payout of large tx fees.”

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Author: Lujan Odera

Kyrgyzstan Lawmakers Mulling Over Taxing and Regulating Cryptocurrency Mining

Kyrgyz Republic’s lawmakers are looking to introduce a taxation bill for cryptocurrency mining which, if passed would make it the first piece of crypto legislation in the country. The bill would amend the Tax Code of the Kyrgyz Republic and bring crypto mining under its tax code. The bill would also set a clear definition of virtual assets and crypto mining.

This bill could really turn out to be a breakthrough decision for the cryptocurrency ecosystem in the country since the government prohibited the use of crypto as a mode of payment back in 2014. Additionally, the government has also put a ban on mining since September 2019.

The New Bill Could Bring In Extra Tax Revenue For The Government

Once passed, the tax bill could bring in $4.2 million in additional revenue for the government which has a current budget of $1 billion. The proposed bill would tax miners 15% on any revenue generated from selling mined crypto assets.

The parliament also discussed the electricity prices and premium rates for miners. A premium price of $0.05 per kilowatt-hour (KW/h) was decided by a council of experts in December last year. The average cost of electricity in the Kyrgyz Republic is $0.030 per KW/h.

While the bill looked set to obtain a parliamentary nod, the latest parliamentary deliberation, held on June 3rd, saw many lawmakers raise concerns over large scale crypto mining and its impact on the limited electricity that the country generates. Deputy Aaly Karashev pointed out that the country imports twice the amount of electricity it exports.

These concerns are valid, given the ban that came into force in September 2019 regarding mining activities, having been imposed because mining farms consumed much more electricity than nearby provincial areas like Issyk-Kul, Talas, and Naryn combined.

Maybe the flat tax and clear regulations would bring in an extra stream of revenue for the government and put a curb on illegal mining in the country.

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Author: Silvia A

2nd Largest BTC Mining Pool, Poolin, Collabs With BlockFi, To Boost Crypto Lending Service

  • Poolin and BlockFi have formed a partnership as the latter aims to extend loans to the mining pool.
  • Bitcoin (BTC) and mining equipment will be accepted as collateral by BlockFi.

Reports confirm that the U.S based institutional-grade crypto lender, BlockFi, will be extending credit to Pooling, the second largest Bitcoin mining pool. The latest move sets the mining pool on extending its crypto lending services to miners since launching Blockin, a Singapore-registered wallet entity, which offers loans to miners.

Since the halving, the hash rate slid over 30% down, showing a possible capitulation of miners as rewards were cut in half. This has seen miners struggle to raise their operating costs such as paying the electricity bill or buying new machines.

The new funding from BlockFi will allow Poolin to disburse more loans to miners in a bid to keep them afloat as well as keep the borrowing rates low at an annualized 6 percent.

Notwithstanding, a capital increase in Poolin’s coffers offers a new opportunity for the mining pool as competition in the mining industry gets tougher. It helps the company diversify its product offerings with more financial products being developed. Yang Jianguo, the head of financial services at Pooling said:

“Mining pool’s a traffic business and it is getting more and more competitive. Poolin has its unique advantage but we also want multiple business lines – not just lending but also financial services – that are parallel to our pool business.”

Despite the shaky nature of the mining arena since the halving, Yang believes miners will still take up these loans in a bid to keep their businesses alive. Poolin will accept Bitcoin mined as collateral, and BlockFi also accepts BTC and extends their collateral of assets also to mining equipment.

As of the time of publishing, Poolin ranks as the largest pool in the last 24 hours providing miners with 20.7 Eh/s, or 20.3% of the total hash rate.

BlockFi’s Efforts in Institutional Crypto Lending

As reported by BEG, BlockFi secured a $30 million Series B funding round led by Valar Ventures in February this year in a bid to increase its institutional lending. Three Arrows Capital, a 10-year venture capital firm also announce an undisclosed amount of funding in BlockFi this April to increase the institutional presence of the crypto lender.

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Author: Lujan Odera

Bitmain Launches ASIC-based BTC Mining Machine, Antminer T19, to Combat S17’s Issues

China-based Bitcoin mining firmware company, Bitmain, announced the launch of the Antminer T19 model version. This model is a cheaper version of the flagship Antminer S19 and S19 Pro models but competes favorably in efficiency of BTC mining.

Bitmain releases ‘cheaper’ Antminer T19 model

After a problematic launch of the Antminer S19 models, Bitmain officially announced the launch of the cheaper Antminer T19 model which will start selling on Bitmain’s website on June 1, 2020. According to the main website the price of the Antminer T19 is $1,749 compared to S19 ($1,785) and S19 Pro ($2,407). The S19 version was sold out in minutes following the launch in 2019. The shipping of the products will start on June 21st till June 30th, the statement reads.

The Antminer T19 is the latest model in the new generation of SHA-256 custom-built chips created by Bitmain. The miner will generate a hash rate of 84 TH/s with a 3 percent variance and a power efficiency of 37.5 joules (J/TH) with a 5 percent variance. In comparison to the two flagship devices – the S19 miner produces 95 TH/s and the S19 Pro producing a hash rate of 110 TH/s. The official report further states,

“The T19 also utilizes the new APW12 power supply and upgraded firmware, which offers faster start-up speeds for an optimized mining experience.”

Bitmain, the largest Bitcoin firmware manufacturer, will limit the number of purchases to two for each user to prevent “hoarding” by the miners. Recently, Riot Blockchain, bought over 1,000 Antminer S19 model machines to boost BTC’s hash rate by 80 percent.

A solution to a failed start?

The third line in a generation of new machines gives miners hope after the terrible and troubling launch of the Antminer S19 and S19 Pro models. Users complained on abnormal failure rates of the mining firmware with nearly 20-30 percent of the total machines failing – normal failure rate is at 5%.

The dominance of Bitmain in Bitcoin’s mining is however raising questions of centralization with the company dominating the manufacturing of miners and mining the token too. Three of the largest mining pools control over half of the total hash rate and Bitmain controls two of those.

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Author: Lujan Odera

Bitfury Announces Bitcoin Mining Investment Program For Institutional Clients

Bitfury, one of the oldest Bitcoin mining firms established back in 2011, has announced a Bitcoin mining investment program for institutional investors on May 26th. This investment program is set to offer an innovative way for institutional funds and family offices to diversify their portfolio and get exposure to the Bitcoin verse.

These institutional clients would be able to invest in different data centers located in North America, Iceland, Norway and Central Asia. The investment program would see these institutional clients can either make direct investments in these data centers or through joint ventures.

Bitfury believes that this investment opportunity is the perfect way for institutional clients to get the right exposure to a market which has intrigued both the small and big players in the past couple of years. Bitfury would be solely responsible for looking after all aspects of the investment program, be it procuring different types of equipment, site sourcing or maintenance.

The firm claims to have one of the most advanced sets of crypto mining equipments under their belt which when combined with the location of their data centers, where the cost of electricity is quite cheap, the firm is hoping to make this innovative investment program mainstream. The Bitcoin mining company believes that these kinds of programs offer better exposure than direct spot trading due to uncertainty in prices. Valery Vavilov, the CFO of Bitfury commented on the idea behind the program and said,

“While this offering is attractive to different types of accredited investors, we believe one of the groups that will benefit most from this offering is family offices. Our streamlined avenue to diversification is designed specifically for their portfolios – exposure to digital assets without any of the operational/technical requirements of holding the digital assets/infrastructure themselves.”

Bitcoin Mining Could Become A Form of Investment Vehicle

Bitfury is not the only Bitcoin mining firm which came up with the idea of offering Bitcoin exposure through part ownership in mining farms. Prior to Bitfury, Chinese mining company Canaan also offered a similar investment opportunity before its listing on Nasdaq, however, its legal trouble did not allow it to become a known choice of investors.

Institutional clients have always preferred an alternative investment vehicle to the spot market and most of them do not want to directly take custody of Bitcoin fearing the volatile market might get triggered by their behavior. Thus, these big investors always look for alternative exposure to Bitcoin to get exposure to one of the most profitable assets over the past decade.

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Author: Rebecca Asseh

Bitcoin Mining Revenue from Transaction Fees Shot Up to its Highest Level Since July 2019

In anticipation of the miner profitability to be reduced by 50%, that is halving, the percentage of BTC mining revenue generated from transaction fees shot up to its highest levels since July 2019, as per Coin Metrics.

“This is a positive signal for miners, as an increase in transaction fees can potentially make up for some of the lost block reward revenue after the upcoming halving.”

In the weeks leading up to the halving, it went above 6% which usually remains around 2%. In mid-2019, it went up to as high as almost 12%.

Source: Coin Metrics BTC Fees to Revenue

It is the result of a spike in bitcoin average transaction fee which also climbed to $3.19 on May 8th, last seen in July. During this gap, the fees remained below a dollar for the most part. The highest this fee has been was on December 22 during the 2017 bull run.

Besides fees, mempool data shows a massive backlog of bitcoin transactions. At one point today, 34.98k bitcoin transactions were waiting to be confirmed and processed by Bitcoin miners.

Source: Mempool Transaction Count

The revenue generated from both block rewards, which is now officially 6.25 BTC, and transaction fees are crucial for a proof-of-work (PoW) blockchain, as this revenue provides an incentive for miners to secure the network.

In the long-run, transaction fees will become an increasingly important part of bitcoin’s security model as the block reward continues to be cut in half every four years.

“As block rewards diminish, a larger portion of miner revenue will need to come from transaction fees. Therefore the percentage of BTC mining revenue generated from transaction fees is an important measurement for a blockchain’s long term health and security.”

Miners to be no more the biggest seller of Bitcoin

The reduction in block rewards also means, “miners will cease to be the biggest seller of bitcoin,” points out on-chain analyst Willy Woo. In turn, “exchanges selling their BTC fees collected into fiat” will bring the biggest sell pressure.

These exchanges or “tax agents on traders” will extract fees in BTC that will be dumped onto the markets and then sold for fiat the same as miners do.

Unlike traders buying or selling, where every trade has a buyer and a seller as such smart money buying or selling, miners and exchanges are unmatched sell pressures on the market.

The volume is already growing, on the spot exchanges the “real volume” hit $4 billion recently while the total aggregate daily volumes of bitcoin futures was $27 billion, as per Skew.

“The rise of the BitMEX style futures exchanges has made an irrevocable footprint on the price, we have much more sideways now from the additional sell pressure. While price moves more sideways, this creates an environment where large leverage traders have an easier time strategically liquidating the bulk of traders from their positions,”

and as such more volatility, explained Woo.

From here on in, futures exchanges that bring liquidity to markets will be the “largest bearish pressure on Bitcoin” further slowing down the price increase.

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Author: AnTy

China’s One Region Accounts for 35.76% of Bitcoin Hash Rate

A Bitcoin Mining Map is launched by the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance (CCAF) that allows checking the average monthly bitcoin hash rate produced by different countries around the globe.

Based on the geolocation data (IP addresses) provided by Poolin, BTC.com, and ViaBTC mining pools that collectively represent approximately 37% of Bitcoin total hashrate, this is the first geographical breakdown of bitcoin hash power distribution.

Unsurprisingly, China is the dominant force in the Bitcoin hash rate that accounts for 65.08% of the average monthly share of the total hash rate in April.

This share has decreased from 67.26% in March, 72.03% in February, and 72.82% in January.

In China, Xinjiang provided over 35.76% of this hash power followed by Sichuan (9.66%), Nei Mongol (8.07), Yunnan (5.42%), and Beijing (1.73%).

In April, the US came at second place with a share of 7.24%, followed by Russia 6.90%, Kazakhstan (6.17%), Malaysia (4.33%), and Iran (3.82%).

Canada, Germany, Norway, and Venezuela contributed less than 1% of the Bitcoin network’s hash power.

Source: Cambridge University – Bitcoin Mining Map

But this third halving that will cut the bitcoin block reward from 12.5 BTC to 6.25 coins will intensify the competition to capture the hash rate of the network and may result in a shift in hash power.

Just four days away, amidst the rising hash rate and difficulty, small and overleveraged miners would be washed out from the market and could see the balance of hash rate power tilt in North America’s favor.

Meanwhile, the number of computers running the bitcoin program is dominated by the US at 19.10% after the geographical location of 21.35% share not available, as per Bitnodes.

The US is followed by Germany(17.39%), France (5.82%), Netherlands (4.25%), Canada (3.01%), the UK (2.59%), Singapore (2.58%), Russia (2.31%), and China (2.02%).

These nodes that validate new transactions and store copies of the network’s shared transaction history have fallen to a level not seen since 2017. This decline could be because running a node is getting harder at a rate that is surpassing technological improvement.

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Author: AnTy

Ukrainian Power Plants May Use Excess Electricity to Mine Cryptocurrencies

The Ministry of Energy in Ukraine thinks power plants could be used for crypto mining companies; considering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on energy.

Crypto mining is one of the most efficient ways of using excess energy, argues the Ministry in a Facebook post from May 6th.

According to the same post, Ukraine’s nuclear power plants have been generating an energy surplus ever since the Coronavirus lockdown began.

Is Digitalization the Answer?

Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelensky, has always encouraged the process of digitization, so the Ukrainian Ministry of Energy has decided to do the same in order to avoid the waste of energy and after warning that if the situation remains unchanged, the conditions for corruption may increase. Here’s what the Facebook post on mining says:

“There is a way to transfer this ‘liability’ into an ‘asset’. One of the modern approaches for using excess electricity is to devote it to cryptocurrency mining. That would not only allow to maintain the guaranteed load on nuclear power plants but also ensure that companies can attract extra funds. Therefore, it would open the way to a fundamentally new economy, new approaches, a new market model.”

Energoatom State-Owned Company to Take Charge

The crypto news website Forklog reported on May 5th that the Ukrainian Ministry of Energy’s acting head requested that Energoatom, which is a state-owned company, to look at how crypto mining could take place at nuclear power plants and have an answer by May 8th.

It wouldn’t be a first to see nuclear power plants involved in crypto mining, yet a first when it comes to the involvement of a government. Back in March 2020, the New York Finger Lakes’ privately-owned power plant resorted to Bitcoin (BTC) mining and started making about $50,000 a day.

Ukraine is a Crypto-Friendly Country

Ukraine has always been friendly and optimistic when it comes to crypto mining. At the beginning of this year, the Ministry of Digital Transformation in the country said it doesn’t want to regulate the crypto space because the blockchain consensus rules are already doing it.

As far as the proposition sent to Energoatom goes, there’s no knowing yet if the company has accepted it or not. No comments have been made, but there’s still time until the May 8th deadline.

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Author: Oana Ularu

Iranian Govt Greenlights iMiner’s 6000 Rig BTC Mining Farm to Commence Operations

  • Iranian authorities have approved over a 1000 crypto mining licenses including Turkish based iMiner.
  • iMiner’s new BTC mining farm boasts of over 6000 mining rigs.

Reports have emerged that the Iranian Ministry of Industry, Mine and Trade has issued Turkey-based BTC miners – iMiner – an operating license. The company has already injected over 311 billion Rials an equivalent of $7.3 million dollars into the Iranian based mining farm.

The farm boasts up to 6000 rigs which can produce colossal computing power of about 96000 terra hashes per second combined. This put each rigs mining capacity at an averaged 16 TH/s digits only matched by the Aladdin Miner.

Iran’s subsidized energy bills have been the main factor for its escalated crypto activity. Attracting miners and investors from China and all over Europe, as has been the trend for regions with cheap electricity reeling in crypto investors notably China and Texas US.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was of the opinion that coming up with a standard cryptocurrency for Islamic states would be their much sought after alternative to the break US dollar monopoly. Iran has been on the receiving end of US sanctions including economic, military, scientific, and even trade-related sanctions since 1979.

Rouhani, alongside other leaders hosted in a summit last year in Malaysia, shared the sentiment that the US dollar has so far worked against them stunting their economies. Iran’s top military official has also called on their top officials and citizens to take up cryptocurrencies in a bid to improve their stunted economy.

Iran has since softened its harsh stance on crypto miners as they have already approved and issued over 1000 licenses to various miners so far including iMiner. Last year they published a dossier on the country’s power consumption which shows that the tiny central Semnan province had indeed overtaken the vast province of Khuzestan mostly attributed to miners.

This is as they looked to crackdown on ‘illegal miners’ offering up to 20% from the recovered damages to incentivize whistleblowing. These miners were deemed illegal after the just passed regulations that sought to pause miner activity at the peak times of electricity consumption.

According to Iranian Energy Ministry spokesman, Mostafa Rajabi, the average price of energy per kW/h which is roughly $0.29 almost halves during cold times. While during the hot periods it more than quadruples due to heavy consumption recorded all over the country.

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Author: Lujan Odera