Latest News Today – NASA’s VIPER Mission to Map Water, Other Resources on

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NASA will launch its Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover, or VIPER, in 2023 to get a closer view of the Moon’s South Pole and evaluate the concentration of water as well as other potential resources on its surface. The space agency is undertaking the mission to understand if it is possible for human life to sustain there, by using locally available resources. The VIPER mobile robot, NASA said, is the first resource mapping mission on any other celestial body. 

NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services  (CLPS) will be providing the launch vehicle and lander for what’s going to be a 100-day mission. Similar to a golf cart, VIPER measures 5 feet by 5 feet and weighs 430 kilograms, said the agency. On its website, NASA said that the Moon rover will directly analyse the water ice on the surface and sub-surface of the celestial body. The VIPER will also evaluate the same at varying depths and temperatures within four main soil environments on the moon.  

The Lunar rover will transmit the data to Earth which will then be utilised in the creation of resource maps. It will also help scientists determine the location and concentration of frozen water on the Moon and varied forms such as ice crystals or molecules chemically bound to other materials. NASA said that VIPER’s findings will inform “future landing sites under the Artemis program by helping to determine locations where water and other resources can be harvested” to sustain humans over extended stays.

The agency added that the findings could be a game-changer, especially because it’s not possible to bring everything to the Moon, Mars, and beyond for long-term exploration. It will use the data that VIPER collects to determine where the water ice is most likely to be found and the easiest to access. This is going to be a critical step forward in NASA’s Artemis programme to establish a sustainable human presence on the surface of the Moon by 2028, the agency said.

NASA said satellites orbiting the Moon as part of the past missions have helped us understand that there is water ice on its surface. However, in order to use it one day, they have to learn more about it — up close and personal. “VIPER will roam the Moon using its three instruments and a 3.28-foot (1m) drill to detect and analyze various lunar soil environments at a range of depths and temperatures,” the agency said. “The rover will venture into permanently shadowed craters, some of the coldest spots in the solar system, where water ice reserves have endured for billions of years.”

There are challenges, too, of extreme temperature conditions, dynamic lighting, and complex terrain. The near real-time driving of the rover will also pose new engineering and design challenges to the team.


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J.P. Morgan Asset Management Acquires Timberland Investment Firm | Sidnaz Blog

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One of the biggest names on Wall Street is getting into the timber business, and a big part of its plan to make money involves less logging.

J.P. Morgan Asset Management said Monday that it has acquired Campbell Global LLC, a Portland, Ore., firm that manages $5.3 billion worth of timberland on behalf of institutional investors, such as pensions and insurance companies.

The deal gives the $2.5 trillion asset manager a position in the booming market for forest-carbon offsets, tradable assets that are created by paying landowners to not cut down trees and leave them standing to sponge carbon from the atmosphere. Offsets are used by companies to scrub emissions from their internal carbon ledgers, which track progress toward pollution-reduction goals.

Terms of the deal with Campbell’s seller,

BrightSphere Investment Group Inc.,

weren’t disclosed.

Many of the world’s largest companies, including

Apple Inc.,

Microsoft Corp.

and

Royal Dutch Shell

PLC, have promised investors they will reduce their carbon footprints. Many emissions are unavoidable for global businesses, which has made standing timber a hot commodity.

J.P. Morgan


JPM 1.51%

is betting that carbon markets will add value to timberlands beyond the income they generate as a source for building products, said

Anton Pil,

the firm’s head of alternatives.

“We wanted to play an active role in carbon-offset markets as they’re developed,” Mr. Pil said. “We want to be viewed as a global leader in the carbon-sequestration market.”

Other big names are angling for similar status.

BP

PLC last year bought a controlling stake in Finite Carbon, the country’s largest forest-offset producer.

Salesforce.com Inc.

Chief Executive

Marc Benioff,

Microsoft and others recently invested in NCX, a firm that matches offset buyers with timberland owners willing to defer harvests for a fee.

Campbell Global oversees about 1.7 million acres of forestland in the U.S., New Zealand, Australia and Chile. About two-thirds of its 150 employees are involved in managing the forests, while the others are investment professionals, said

John Gilleland,

the firm’s chief executive.

Campbell Global for more than three decades has managed timberland to produce logs for lumber and pulp mills, but has moved into carbon markets in recent years.



Photo:

Campbell Global

Campbell for more than three decades has managed timberland to produce logs for lumber and pulp mills. In recent years, it has moved into carbon markets, selling offsets in California’s regulated cap-and-trade market as well as in the unregulated voluntary markets that have boomed with the rise of green investing.

“We do believe this is the future for this asset,” Mr. Gilleland said.

Timberland investing became popular in the 1980s after the tax code was made more favorable to owners of income-producing real estate, Congress allowed pensions to diversify beyond stocks and bonds and Wall Street analysts convinced forest-products companies to sell off their timberlands.

Investors reasoned that trees would grow, and thus gain value, no matter what the stock market did. Timberland was viewed as a good hedge against inflation.

Demand for lumber has skyrocketed during the pandemic, sending prices to all-time highs. This video explains what’s driving the lumber boom, who’s profiting, and why those growing the trees aren’t reaping the benefits. Illustration: Liz Ornitz/WSJ

But it hasn’t always been a good investment: At the same time timberland investing was gaining momentum, the federal government was paying landowners in the South to plant pine trees on worn-out farmland to boost crop prices. Decades later, the resulting surfeit of pine has pushed log prices to their lowest levels in decades even as the resurgent housing market has lifted prices for lumber and other wood products to records.

Investors such as the California Public Employees’ Retirement System have suffered big losses on southern timberland in recent years. Though log prices in the West still move in unison with those of lumber, timberland there is threatened by fires and wood-boring beetles. In the North, mills have closed and rendered many wood lots uneconomical to log and worth more leased to companies as carbon sinks.

Write to Ryan Dezember at [email protected]

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Raven Industries, Torchlight Energy, Bitcoin: What to Watch When | Sidnaz Blog

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Stock futures are bouncing higher, with markets set to open for trading Monday after the U.S. celebrated its first Juneteenth as a federal holiday. Here’s what we’re watching ahead of the bell.

  • Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 0.5% in a choppy trading session early Monday. Contracts linked to the S&P 500 edged up 0.4% Monday, while Nasdaq-100 futures rose 0.5%.
  • Asian markets are mostly down, led by the Nikkei’s 3.3% drop, but European shares are gaining. Gold prices are up, while bitcoin is off more than 6%.
What’s Coming Up
Market Movers to Watch

William Ackman’s Pershing Square Tontine Holdings reached a deal for an investment in Universal Music.



Photo:

The wall street journal

Market Facts
  • Heavy options activity amplified last week’s investor retreat from bets on stronger economic growth. More than 116 million options contracts were expiring on Friday, according to Cboe Global Markets data, the second-highest level ever after Jan. 15, when more than 150 million contracts were expiring.
  • Natural-gas futures ended Friday at $3.215 per million British thermal units, up 96% from a year ago and the highest price headed into summer since 2017.
  • On this day in 1990, after decades of closure under communist rule, the Budapest Stock Exchange reopened for trading.
Chart of the Day
Must Reads Since You Went to Bed

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Vertex Pharmaceuticals, AMC, Uber, Dave & Buster’s: What to Watch | Sidnaz Blog

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Stock futures are inching up, a day after the S&P 500 notched its 27th record close of the year amid the push-pull of rising inflation versus a healing job market. Here’s what we’re watching ahead of Friday’s trading start.

What’s Coming Up
  • The University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index, due at 10 a.m. ET, is expected to rise to 84.4 during the opening weeks of June from 82.9 at the end of May.
  • The Group of Seven summit is under way in England. Leaders from the world’s seven largest advanced economies will discuss the recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, climate change and other issues.
Market Movers to Watch
  • Shares of drug maker

    Vertex Pharmaceuticals


    VRTX 1.50%

    are looking sickly premarket, with a 15% drop. It said it will stop developing an experimental drug after it was shown in a midstage study to be unlikely to provide a clinical benefit to people with a rare genetic disease.

Vertex Pharmaceuticals’ building in Boston, Oct. 19, 2016.



Photo:

Scott Eisen/Bloomberg News

  • AMC Entertainment


    AMC -13.23%

    jumped 6.6% premarket. Late in Thursday’s session, AMC’s credit rating was upgraded by two notches, to CCC+ from CCC- , by S&P Global Ratings, as it pointed to the movie theater operator’s recent equity capital raises.

  • Skee ball anyone?

    Dave & Buster’s


    PLAY -3.78%

    shares climbed 5.2% premarket after the entertainment-venue chain reported a profit for its latest quarter as revenue picked up with consumers heading back into its locations.

  • Cruise lines caught the Covid blues. Two guests sharing a room on Royal Caribbean Group’s Celebrity Millennium tested positive for Covid-19 toward the end of the cruise, the company said. The ship was sailing out of the Caribbean island of St. Maarten, one of the company’s first voyages to restart out of the region.

    Royal Caribbean


    RCL -2.33%

    shares slipped 2% premarket, and

    Carnival


    CCL -2.04%

    was also down, by 1.4%.

  • Uber


    UBER 0.83%

    is up 0.6% premarket. A Chinese competitor, Didi Chuxing Technology, made its IPO papers public on Thursday, and could fetch a valuation upward of $70 billion. Didi is known for successfully pushing Uber out of China, winning a bruising price war that ended in 2016. But Uber also stands to benefit from Didi’s success, as it now owns a 12.8% stake in Didi.

  • Chewy


    CHWY 2.03%

    shares slipped 1.3% premarket after the pet-products retailer said it was facing labor shortages and supply problems that led it to run out of some items. Still, investors were tossed a bone when it also surprised Wall Street with a quarterly profit.

Market Facts
  • While the pandemic has hit India hard, its stock market has surged. The MSCI India index hit record highs this week and is now up 14% for the year to date.
  • Uranium this week traded at $32.05 a pound, according to UxC LLC, a nuclear-fuel data and research company. Prices reached an all-time high of $136 a pound in 2007, according to records going back to 1987.
  • On this day in 1930, trying to rebuild public confidence in the market, New York Stock Exchange President Richard Whitney had the press witness him making a bid, with his own money, of $160 a share for a 60,000-share block of U.S. Steel stock. Shortly thereafter the stock sank below $150, on its way to $21 in the market bottom of 1932.
Chart of the Day
  • Money is pouring into stocks that get good grades on issues like building a diverse workforce and reducing carbon emissions. But figuring out how high- and low-rated companies perform is nearly impossible because of inconsistencies in the way they are rated.
Must Reads Since You Went to Bed

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Hedge Fund Behind Amazon-MGM Deal Amasses Big Bet on Uranium | Sidnaz Blog

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The hedge fund behind the

Amazon.com Inc.

-MGM Holdings Inc. deal has another trade up its sleeve: going big on uranium.

New York hedge fund Anchorage Capital Group LLC has amassed a holding of a few million pounds of uranium, people familiar with the matter say, in a bet that prices of the nuclear fuel will recover after a decade in the doldrums. It is buying and selling uranium alongside mining companies, specialist traders and utility firms with nuclear-power plants, turning the fund into a significant player in the market.

Venturing into the uranium market, which is much smaller than oil or gold markets, is unusual for a firm that typically invests in corporate debt. It is another example of money managers straying into esoteric markets in search of returns after a yearslong run-up in stocks and slide in a bond yields.

Anchorage was recently in the spotlight after scoring about $2 billion in paper profits from Amazon’s deal to buy MGM in May. The hedge fund became MGM’s biggest shareholder after the Hollywood studio emerged from bankruptcy in 2010.

Anchorage’s physical uranium holdings are also a rarity because Wall Street firms don’t typically own physical uranium. Most investors bet on uranium prices by buying shares of mining firms, or through companies like

Yellow Cake

PLC., which acts as an exchange-traded fund.

In the 2000s, investors piled into uranium trades, helping to power a run-up in prices that peaked in 2007. Most funds exited either during the 2008-09 financial crisis or after Japan’s 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster sapped demand.

Goldman Sachs Group

has pared back its uranium trading book and

Deutsche Bank AG

has quit the market, leaving

Macquarie Group Ltd.

as the financial institution with the biggest presence.

The uranium that is usually traded takes the form of U3O8, a lightly processed ore. Prices for U3O8 have sagged since Fukushima knocked demand, leading to a glut that traders say has yet to be whittled down.

The material this week traded at $32.05 a pound, according to UxC LLC, a nuclear-fuel data and research company. Prices reached an all-time high of $136 a pound in 2007, according to records going back to 1987.

Anchorage is wagering on a reversal. Spearheaded by trader Jason Siegel, the fund began acquiring uranium a few years ago, because its analysis showed most miners were booking losses at prevailing prices, a person familiar with the fund’s thinking said. The fund bet that uranium prices would rise to encourage miners to produce enough material.

Mr. Siegel didn’t respond to requests seeking comment.

The entry of a financial firm has caused a stir in the uranium market. Anchorage buys and sells infrequently, but in large quantities that put it in the same league as big uranium merchants such as Traxys Group, participants say.

A Honeywell Specialty Materials plant in Metropolis, Ill.



Photo:

Steve Jahnke/Associated Press

Anchorage hasn’t publicly disclosed its interest in the uranium market, the size of its holdings or the terms of any specific transactions. The exact size of Anchorage’s position—a topic of speculation in the market—couldn’t be learned. The person familiar with the fund’s thinking said it owned fewer than five million pounds of uranium. The overall spot market for the nuclear fuel turns over 60 million to 80 million pounds each year, according to UxC.

Due to strict rules about where uranium can be held, trading typically doesn’t involve moving the fuel around the world. Firms instead take ownership of U3O8 stored in drums at three processing facilities in France, Canada and the U.S. When they sell, buyers take ownership on the spot. The transactions aren’t reported publicly.

Anchorage’s wager relies on buying uranium and selling it to utility companies and others at a higher price for delivery several years in the future, in what is known as a carry trade. Doing so could generate annualized returns of roughly 5% for Anchorage, according to people familiar with the matter.

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS

How do you see the uranium market developing? Join the conversation below.

The hedge fund embeds options into sale agreements with utilities and other firms, people familiar with the matter say. This can involve selling fuel to a utility company at a discount in return for the right to deliver more uranium at a set price at a later date.

Anchorage isn’t alone in betting that prices are primed to rebound.

Investment firms including Segra Capital Management LLC, Sachem Cove Partners LLC and Azarias Capital Management LP expect that efforts to wean the world off fossil fuels will require new nuclear-power stations, according to executives at the funds. They are seeking to profit by buying shares of uranium miners or firms like Yellow Cake, which is up 31% in London trading over the past year.

Some investors hesitate to own uranium outright because of the perception that it can cause dangerous accidents, according to Joe Kelly, chief executive of brokerage Uranium Markets LLC.

“There’s a deterrent that does not exist in other commodities,” said Mr. Kelly.

Write to Joe Wallace at [email protected]

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Clover Health Stock Surges Again: What to Watch When Markets Open | Sidnaz Blog

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The meme stocks have a couple of new candidates, with both

Clover Health


CLOV 85.82%

Investments and Wendy’s rising premarket after surging in the prior session. Here’s what we’re watching ahead of Wednesday’s opening bell.

  • Healthcare company Clover Health is up 22% premarket, following Tuesday’s 86% rise. Hamburger chain

    Wendy’s


    WEN 25.85%

    is up a more modest 4.3%, but that builds on Tuesday’s 26% jump.

  • U.S. stock futures edged up, pointing to tepid gains at the open led by technology stocks.
  • Futures tied to the S&P 500 ticked less than 0.1% higher. On Tuesday, it ground up for its third-highest close on record. Nasdaq-100 futures edged up 0.3%, suggesting muted gains for technology stocks after the opening bell. Read our full market wrap.
What’s Coming Up
Market Movers to Watch

Lordstown Motors Corp. headquarters in Lordstown, Ohio, May 15, 2021.



Photo:

Dustin Franz/Bloomberg News

  • The original meme stock,

    GameStop,


    GME 7.14%

    edged up 0.3% premarket. E-commerce entrepreneur Ryan Cohen is slated to become the videogame retailer’s chairman on Wednesday, cementing his oversight of a company that is searching for a chief executive and seeking to manage expectations of shareholders bullish on its turnaround potential.

  • Sherwin Williams

    shares slipped 0.4% ahead of the bell. The paint maker raised its sales and profit outlook on “strong” demand, but said rising costs for raw materials have led it to raise prices.

  • Autodesk

    shares climbed 1.6% premarket. On Tuesday Rosenblatt set a price target of $320 a share for the software company—it closed the day at $278.66.

  • American Software

    edged up 0.3% premarket. The supply-chain management and software company reported record bookings in its fiscal fourth quarter, while total revenue for the fiscal year declined 4% from the year prior.

Market Facts
  • Nearly $3 of every $10 of global equity inflows have been in ESG funds so far in 2021, according to Bank of America. Assets under management in the 1,900-plus global ESG funds tracked by the firm hit a record $1.4 trillion in April, more than double the amount from a year ago.
  • In the Boston area alone, venture capitalists pumped $7.2 billion into life-sciences companies through May, closing in on the $8.2 billion they invested all last year, according to Crunchbase.
Chart of the Day
  • China’s tech crackdown is mostly affecting firms listed outside the country, helping to create a big performance gap between onshore and offshore Chinese stocks.
Must Reads Since You Went to Bed

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West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice Is Personally Liable for $700 | Sidnaz Blog

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West Virginia Gov.

Jim Justice

is personally on the hook for nearly $700 million in loans his coal companies took out from now-defunct Greensill Capital, according to people familiar with the loans and documents described to The Wall Street Journal.

Mr. Justice’s personal guarantee of the loans, which hasn’t been reported, puts financial pressure on the popular Republican governor. He is also dealing with unrelated lawsuits alleging parts of his sprawling network of coal companies breached payment contracts or failed to deliver coal.

Greensill packaged the loans and sold them to investment funds managed by

Credit Suisse Group AG


CS -1.08%

.

Credit Suisse


CS -1.08%

and Greensill ran $10 billion in supply-chain finance funds that extended financing to a range of borrowers.

The Swiss bank froze the investment funds in March and is in talks with Mr. Justice’s Bluestone Resources Inc. and other borrowers to recoup money to make investors whole, according to the people familiar with the discussions.

Credit Suisse

is under pressure to recover money quickly and has named Bluestone as one of three large borrowers from the Greensill funds that it has identified in its recovery efforts.

Bluestone hadn’t expected to begin repaying the Greensill loans until 2023 at the earliest, it said in a lawsuit brought in March in a New York federal court alleging Greensill committed fraud in its lending practices.

Greensill was a once-hot private finance firm. Its unraveling sowed financial damage far from its U.K. headquarters.



Photo:

oli scarff/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

Bluestone’s general counsel and an outside lawyer representing Bluestone didn’t respond to requests for comment. Requests for comment from Mr. Justice’s spokesman weren’t returned.

Greensill was a once-hot private finance firm whose bankers said could have been worth $40 billion in a potential initial public offering. It attracted investment from

SoftBank Group Corp.

before collapsing into bankruptcy in March when it lost a key type of insurance that backed up its loans.

Greensill specialized in supply-chain finance, a type of cash advance that helps companies manage cash flow.

Its unraveling sowed financial damage far from its U.K. headquarters, leading to the collapse of banks in Germany and Italy. It dealt a black eye to Credit Suisse, which sold Greensill assets to investors as relatively safe, and it imperiled the finances of British-Indian steel magnate

Sanjeev Gupta.

The Bluestone companies were one of Greensill’s largest clients, the Journal reported earlier.

Credit Suisse in a recent notice to investors said Bluestone owes nearly $700 million in loans.

In a notice to investors, Credit Suisse said Bluestone owes nearly $700 million in loans.



Photo:

Dan Kitwod/Getty Images

Mr. Justice’s companies own several coal-related businesses, and have settled a number of cases in recent years for alleged nonpayment of bills, according to court records published by the investigative journalism website ProPublica.

The guarantees were provided by Mr. Justice as well as his wife and covered unlimited amounts, some of the people familiar with the loans said. Mr. Justice’s son and Bluestone’s chief executive, James C. Justice III, guaranteed the loans up to a certain limit, one of the people said, though that figure couldn’t be learned. All three are listed as plaintiffs in the lawsuit against Greensill.

Borrowers make personal guarantees on business loans to give lenders additional comfort in the case of default.

Forbes this year dropped Mr. Justice from its billionaires list, owing to Greensill’s failure. It now pegs his net worth at $450 million, down from $1.2 billion in April 2020. His wealth stems from dozens of coal companies, farms and other businesses he and his family oversee, including the famed Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.

Mr. Justice was elected in 2016 as a Democrat. He switched to the Republican party in 2017 and is an avid supporter of former President

Donald Trump.

Seen by supporters as a man of the people despite his wealth and political power, he still coaches the girls’ basketball team at Greenbrier East High School.

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS

What will be the impact on Gov. Jim Justice and his coal companies from the collapse of Greensill Capital? Join the conversation below.

West Virginia voters haven’t been deterred by reports about his companies’ financial entanglements, re-electing him in 2020 with 65% of the vote. His approval rating stands at 62%, according to intelligence company Morning Consult.

“The governor’s business interests don’t carry a lot of weight in this state, there’s just not a lot of concern,” said Marybeth Beller, associate professor of political science at Marshall University. “The former president had all kinds of business problems and it just didn’t seem to matter that much to West Virginians. Jim Justice follows suit.”

Bluestone and Greensill began their relationship in May 2018, when Greensill Vice Chairman

Roland Hartley-Urquhart

got in touch through a mutual business associate, according to the Bluestone lawsuit.

The Bluestone companies received financing over a three-year period. When the first set of loans matured, Greensill replaced them with new loans in a process that became known as a “cashless roll,” according to the Bluestone lawsuit.

Many of the loans were backed by “prospective receivables” that hadn’t yet been generated, from a list of “prospective buyers,” some of whom might not have ever become Bluestone customers, the lawsuit says. It couldn’t be learned exactly how Bluestone used the proceeds of the loans.

Mr. Justice’s companies play a sizable role in the market for coal used in steelmaking. They mined more than 1 million tons of coal in 2018, primarily metallurgical, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence. The largest metallurgical coal miner in the U.S. produced 12 million tons in 2019.

Metallurgical coal prices dropped sharply last year but have recently rebounded to pre-pandemic levels as economies reopen.

Bluestone has a separate financial dispute with Caroleng Investments Ltd., a British Virgin Islands-incorporated company. Earlier this month, a federal judge in Delaware ordered Bluestone to post a $10 million security bond in relation to its 2015 purchase of coal assets from Caroleng. In January, Bluestone’s general counsel told the court that an earlier arbitration ruling in Caroleng’s favor would result in a hardship, according to a court filing.

In another case, a federal judge in Delaware in March found that a Justice company failed to deliver nearly 700,000 tons of coal to a Pennsylvania exporter between 2017 and 2018. He ordered the company and Mr. Justice to pay the exporter $6.8 million. Mr. Justice had personally guaranteed the coal deliveries.

Mr. Justice and the company have sought to pause the enforcement of the judgment.

Write to Julie Steinberg at [email protected] and Duncan Mavin at dun[email protected]

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Bitcoin Mining Operation Is Uncovered During U.K. Drug Bust | Sidnaz Blog

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British police got a shock when they raided a suspected illegal cannabis farm this week: Instead of halogen lamps and weed, they found about 100 computers mining bitcoin.

Officers from the West Midlands Police forced entry into the warehouse in an area west of the city of Birmingham known as the Black Country with a drug warrant, after intelligence suggested it was being used to grow the illegal crop.

Unusual amounts of wiring and ventilation were visible on the outside of the building and a drone had measured high levels of heat rising from it—classic signs of a cannabis factory. But the officers broke in to discover a huge bank of computers in what they now suspect was a cryptocurrency mine.

They also found that the computers used stolen electricity by tapping directly into the power supply outside of the warehouse’s circuits. Police said the mine consumed thousands of pounds worth of electricity (£1 is equivalent to around $1.40).

Cryptocurrency mining, particularly for

bitcoin,

has become a lucrative business as its value has shot higher, peaking at about $60,000 per bitcoin in April. But mining the coins, where computers race to solve complex mathematical puzzles, is also hugely energy-intensive and very costly.

“My understanding is that mining for cryptocurrency is not itself illegal, but clearly abstracting electricity from the mains supply to power it is,” Sgt. Jennifer Griffin said in a statement on Thursday. She added that no arrests were made at the premises, but that the police would be making inquiries with the owner of the warehouse.

The British warehouse had “all the hallmarks of a cannabis cultivation setup,” Sgt. Griffin said. “It’s certainly not what we were expecting.”

Cryptocurrency mining has boomed as the value of bitcoins rocketed this year. When computers compete to harvest fresh coins by solving mathematical puzzles—a process known as mining—the new coins produced have fetched high prices.

On top of this, when a computer successfully solves the puzzle, it is able to process some bitcoin transactions on the network and can charge a fee for those services. Daily revenue from mining globally reached a record high of $77.8 million on April 15, according to CoinDesk, a research website that tracks cryptocurrencies. On that same day, bitcoin’s dollar value peaked at $63,381.20.

An image of a single unit at the crypto-mining operation uncovered this week.



Photo:

West Midlands Police

The process to obtain bitcoin is highly energy-intensive. As more people compete to harvest the cryptocurrency, the harder the mathematical puzzles get and the more energy is required to gain it. Bitcoin’s high energy use has drawn criticism in recent weeks from

Tesla Inc.’s

Elon Musk.

Chinese officials have also recently indicated that they will be taking measures to curb bitcoin mining in China, one of the largest markets for it. Some mining services have already started banning mainland China internet addresses from accessing their platforms in the wake of those comments.

Iran this week banned crypto mining for four months after a series of unplanned blackouts in cities. President

Hassan Rouhani

told a cabinet meeting that crypto mining was draining 2 gigawatts of electricity from Iran’s power grid each day, according to the BBC.

The fictional DeLorean time machine in “Back to the Future” needed just 1.21 gigawatts to travel through time. And a single gigawatt is enough to power 110 million LED lights, or is equivalent to the power of 1.3 million horses, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Global crypto mining consumes about 114 terawatt-hours a year, which is more than the annual electricity needs of the Netherlands or the Philippines, according to a tool built by researchers at University of Cambridge Judge Business School’s Centre for Alternative Finance.

Indoor cannabis farms also use heavy amounts of electricity to power lights, fans, water pumps and heating systems. U.S. cannabis farms consumed about 1% of national electrical power in 2012, according to a study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Today, that would be equivalent to nearly 40 terawatt-hours a year.

China’s recent warning on cryptocurrency sent the market in a tailspin. WSJ’s Aaron Back explains why the recent shake-ups in the value of bitcoin, dogecoin, ether and other cryptocurrencies may point to obstacles in mainstream acceptance. Photo: Dado Ruvic/Reuters

Write to Paul J. Davies at [email protected] and Caitlin Ostroff at [email protected]

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Nvidia’s Cryptocurrency Puzzle Gets Less Vexing | Sidnaz Blog

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The Silicon Valley chip maker got badly burned by a previous ethereum price spike.



Photo:

David Paul Morris/Bloomberg News

“Not like last time” can be a dangerous phrase in business. But in the case of

Nvidia


NVDA -0.89%

and its relationship with crypto-miners, it also happens to be true.

Worries about the impact of crypto-mining have hung over the chip maker as the latest cryptocurrency craze began pushing ethereum prices skyward earlier this year. Nvidia’s graphics processors designed for videogaming are also used to “mine” ethereum, which involves matching and updating cryptocurrency transactions in return for rewards. Those rewards grow as ethereum prices rise, and this year has seen the cryptocurrency’s value soar nearly fourfold, even after a sharp correction over the past few weeks.

Nvidia got badly burned by a previous ethereum price jump and subsequent crash in 2018, which resulted in miners dumping their chips on the secondary market and thus hurting Nvidia’s sales. So investors are extra wary this time around, as evidenced by the reaction to the company’s fiscal first-quarter results late Wednesday. Revenue surged 84% year over year to about $5.7 billion, while the company projected $6.3 billion for the current period—14% above Wall Street’s expectations. But the company acknowledged that crypto demand will drive some of that upside. Nvidia’s share price slipped 1% Thursday morning.

Nvidia’s business with crypto-miners is hard to fully quantify. The company has started selling specialized graphics cards designed for mining, and it estimates that revenue from these products totaled $150 million in the recently ended quarter and will reach $400 million in the current period. That’s about 6% of Nvidia’s total projected revenue for the quarter. But the company also admits miners could still be snapping up its regular gaming cards as well, even though Nvidia has employed some technical measures to make those products less useful for mining.

Strength in Nvidia’s main businesses should better contain any risk from crypto exposure this time around. Its gaming chip revenue has grown 66% since the fiscal year ended January of 2020, which bore the brunt of the impact of the last ethereum spike, while its data center unit has more than doubled. The two are on track to do a little over $20 billion in combined revenue for the current fiscal year—up 43% from the previous year.

Miners this time around may also be a bit less enthusiastic given upcoming technical changes to the ethereum network that are expected to diminish the profitability of mining. Mark Lipacis of Jefferies estimates that crypto-mining sales of Nvidia’s gaming processors are about 10% of their level during the last price spike. Investors are right not to count on Nvidia’s crypto bubble continuing. But a pop this time is much less likely to leave the chip maker all wet.

Write to Dan Gallagher at [email protected]

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