Bitcoin miner Core Scientific files for bankruptcy and will continue mining

Core Scientific’s 104-megawatt bitcoin mining data center in Marble, North Carolina

Carey McKelvey

Core Scientific, one of the largest publicly traded crypto mining companies in the U.S., filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in Texas early Wednesday morning, according to a person familiar with the company’s finances. The move follows a year of falling cryptocurrency prices and rising energy prices.

Core Scientific is mining for Proof-of-Work cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. The process involves powering data centers across the country, packed with highly specialized computers that process mathematical equations to validate transactions while creating new tokens. The process requires expensive equipment, some technical know-how, and a lot of electricity.

Core’s market cap had fallen to $78 million at Tuesday’s close, compared to a valuation of $4.3 billion in July 2021 when the company went public via a Special Purpose Acquisition Vehicle (SPAC). The stock is down more than 98% over the past year.

The company is still generating positive cash flow, but that cash isn’t enough to pay off financing debt on leased equipment, according to a person familiar with the company’s situation. The company will not be liquidated but will continue to operate normally while an agreement is reached with the senior security bondholders who hold the bulk of the company’s debt, according to this person, who declined to be identified to discuss confidential company matters.

Core had previously said in an October filing that holders of its common stock could suffer “a total loss of their investment,” but that may not be the case if the broader industry recovers. The deal cut with Core convertible debenture holders is structured in such a way that if the business environment for Bitcoin actually improves, common stock holders may not be wiped out entirely. The company also announced that it would default on its debt payments due in late October. and early Nov – and said creditors are free to sue the company for non-payment.

Core, which primarily mints Bitcoin, has seen the token’s price fall from an all-time high of over $69,000 in November. to around $16,800 in 2021. That fall in value, coupled with increased competition among miners — and increased energy prices — have weighed it down profit margins.

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The Austin, Texas-based miner, who has operations in North Dakota, North Carolina, Georgia and Kentucky, said in his October filing that “operating performance and liquidity have been driven strongly by the ongoing decline in bitcoin price, the surge electricity costs” and “the increase in global bitcoin network hashrate” – a term used to describe the computing power of all miners on the bitcoin network.

Crypto lender Celsius, which filed for bankruptcy protection in July, was a core client. As Celsius’ debt was paid off during bankruptcy proceedings, it took a toll on Core’s balance sheet, another example of the contagion effect sweeping the crypto sector this year.

Core — one of the largest blockchain infrastructure and hosting providers, as well as one of the largest digital asset miners in North America — is not alone in its struggles.

Compute North, which provides hosting services and infrastructure for crypto mining, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in September, and another miner, Marathon Digital Holdings, announced an $80 million exposure to Compute North.

Meanwhile, Greenidge Generation, a vertically integrated crypto miner, reported second-quarter net losses of more than $100 million in August and paused plans to expand into Texas. And Argo’s stock plummeted 60% following its announcement on Oct. 14. January that his plan to raise $27 million with a “strategic investor” fell through.

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