A recent report by Fundstrat’s Tom Lee notes that Bitcoin (BTC) mining earnings are currently almost breaking even, as the activity has temporarily become less profitable the midst of the current decline in the markets, CNBC reported yesterday, March 15.
Lee notes in the report that the current figure for the cost of mining one bitcoin is $8,038, while BTC is trading at around $8,221 by press time, down a quarter of a percent over a 24 hour period, according to data from CoinMarketCap.
The model Fundstrat used for calculating the cost of mining one BTC includes the cost of equipment, overhead such as sustaining cooling apparatuses, and the cost of electricity, assumed to be 6 cents per kilowatt. The head of quantitative data science at Fundstrat, Sam Doctor, said that the cost of replacing equipment takes up more than half of the overall cost of mining.
Crypto miners also earn money from transaction fees, which have recently been falling. According to data from BitInfoCharts, the median transaction fee on March 15 was around $0.21, while it had been over $34 dollars on Dec. 23 of last year. Charlie Hayter, CEO of website CryptoCompare, told CNBC that miners are now earning half of what they were in December also due to a rise in popularity of BTC mining, measured by hashrate.
According to Fundstrat’s Doctor, miners are likely to stop mining operations if BTC’s price sank to around $3,000 or $4,000. Doctor added that BTC mining had been breaking even in January 2015, when one BTC was equal to between $200 and $300.
However, CNBC writes that Chinese BTC miners will probably keep mining even if BTC sinks to a price where they would lose money, noting that they have the extra incentive to send their earnings overseas to have money apart from the Chinese government’s capital controls.
Due to the increasing energy costs of mining cryptocurrencies, some critics have worried that the potential negative environmental impact outweighs the profits.
However, Cointelegraph reported in mid-February that an abundance of renewable energy options, as well as the positive benefits cryptocurrency use can bring to unbanked countries or countries with hyperinflation like Venezuela, may mean that the high electricity use is a “non-issue.”