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Steve St. Angelo: Zombie Mining Companies Drain Shareholder Wealth

Tom welcomes back Steve St. Angelo of the SRSrocco Report for a discussion on the economics of Bitcoin mining, focusing on the lifespan and economic viability of Bitcoin mining hardware. According to St. Angelo, major US Bitcoin miners Marathon and Riot account for significant portions of global hash rate production, with Bitcoin mining consuming approximately 1-2% of US electricity. However, Bitcoin miners’ hardware depreciates rapidly; while they last five years, they become almost obsolete in two years, producing only around 90% of their total Bitcoin output by that time.

St. Angelo discusses the implications of this rapid depreciation on sustainability and profitability, raising concerns about underreported depreciation costs, which can mislead investors. To fund the capital expenditure required to replace these miners, companies issue large amounts of shares, leading to significant dilution for existing shareholders.

The conversation also touches on the potential use of stranded energy for Bitcoin mining but expresses concerns about its scarcity as energy demand grows. St. Angelo compares this to the gold mining industry, where inflation caused by government actions impacts production costs. He argues that the high depreciation rate and underreporting of these costs in the Bitcoin mining industry could lead to significant financial challenges.

Marathon and Riot’s claims about not needing to issue further shares for growth remain uncertain. Steve expresses concerns regarding Bitcoin’s energy consumption compared to gold mining and its unsustainability due to the need for continuous miner replacement. Despite his criticism of Bitcoin, he acknowledges that some investors are avid supporters. He emphasizes physical metals like gold as a higher quality collateral due to their durability and lack of ongoing energy consumption.

Additionally, Steve discusses trends in Gold Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs) inflows and outflows between Western countries and Asia, particularly China. While there have been significant net outflows from Western Gold ETFs for several years, Eastern countries like China have experienced substantial increases in their Gold ETFs due to central banks’ large-scale gold purchases. The West’s potential shift towards real assets like gold is suggested, given the risks associated with US Treasuries and money market accounts. However, acquiring gold with potentially devalued dollars presents a challenge for Western investors.

Talking Points From This Episode

  • Steve discusses Bitcoin mining’s rapid hardware depreciation, its impact on profitability, and sustainability concerns.
  • Marathon and Riot’s Bitcoin mining operations face significant underreported depreciation costs.
  • Gold ETF trends: Eastern countries’ surge in gold purchases versus Western net outflows.

Time Stamp References:
0:00 – Introduction
0:44 – Economics of BTC Mining?
4:10 – Mining Economics & Charts
13:30 – Hash Rates & New Hardware
17:07 – Share Dilution Solutions
19:34 – Underperformance & CAP-Ex
25:30 – All-In Costs & Mining
27:56 – Electricity Consumption
30:40 – End to End Depreciation
37:17 – Bitcoin Value & Time
38:35 – Comparing Mining Industries
41:37 – Gold Mining Total Costs
44:08 – Bitcoin Vs. Gold
48:30 – Chinese Gold ETF Flows
53:10 – Wrap Up

Guest Links:

Independent researcher Steve St. Angelo (SRSrocco) started to invest in precious metals in 2002. Later on, in 2008, he began researching areas of the gold and silver market that, curiously, most of the precious metal analyst community have left unexplored. These areas include how energy and the falling EROI “Energy Returned On Invested” stand to impact the mining industry, precious metals, paper assets, and the overall economy.

Steve considers studying the impacts of EROI one of the most important aspects of his energy research. For the past several years, he has written scholarly articles on some of the top precious metals and financial websites.

You can find many of Steve’s articles on noteworthy sites, such as GoldSeek-SilverSeek, Market Oracle, Financial Sense,, SilverDoctors, TFMetals Report, Outsiderclub, SGTreport, BrotherJohnF, Hartgeld, Der-Klare-Blick, PeakProsperity, SilverStrategies, DollarCollapse, FurtureMoneyTrends, Sharpspixley, FinancialSurvivalNetwork, PMBull, Deviantinvestor, PMBug, Wealthwire, and ZeroHedge.

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