A coal mining company has revealed that it has been quietly mining Bitcoin for over three years.

Alliance Resource Partners, listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange under the ticker ARLP, disclosed the crypto initiative during its first-quarter earnings call.

“It was just an opportunity that we saw due to the fact that we've got excess power at our mining operations,” said Cary Marshall, senior vice president and chief financial officer at Alliance, according to a transcript of the call published Monday.

The search for a way to monetize those spare resources led the firm to purchase Bitcoin mining equipment in 2020 and 2021, during one of the largest periods of price growth in Bitcoin’s history.


Today, Marshall said, the Boulder, Colo.-based company holds 425 BTC on its balance sheet, worth $25 million as of writing. ARLP has a market cap of $2.8 billion, up 6% over the last five trading days.

The disclosure means Alliance has been involved with Bitcoin for roughly as long as MicroStrategy, the world’s largest Bitcoin holder, which purchased its first BTC in August 2020.

“We're not actually out there buying Bitcoin or anything of that nature,” Marshall clarified. “We're mining the Bitcoin associated with these miners that we have.”

Marshall’s claims are supported by the firm’s first-quarter 8K report filed with the SEC, which says it held $30.3 million worth of “digital assets” on its balance sheet.


Alliance’s embrace of Bitcoin is one example of how BTC mining can benefit the energy industry at large—albeit via a non-renewable source. Digital currency mining is location agnostic and dynamic enough to be quickly curtailed when market conditions turn unfavorable, making it a flexible means of demand response.

"Alliance Resources’ foray into bitcoin mining is a logical step, considering the process’ ability to harness underutilized electricity and its economic advantages,” Nishant Sharma, founder at Bitcoin mining research firm BlocksBridge, told Decrypt.

“Over time, we anticipate the emergence of more bitcoin mining pilot projects initiated by other prominent energy firms," Sharma added.

Alliance claimed that its miners are utilizing “already paid for yet underutilized electricity load,” implying that the firm isn’t burning any additional coal just to mine more BTC. However, some think Alliance’s reveal could still be a bad look for Bitcoin, which has been criticized by non-profits and regulators for polluting the environment.

CH4 Capital co-founder Daniel Batten said he is hesitant to jump to conclusions about the company until conducting further research, but conceded that Alliance’s involvement “doesn’t help” the cause of pro-Bitcoin environmentalists.

“I suspect that nuance will be lost, given the low standard of analysis on Bitcoin’s environmental impact by GPUS and many traditional media outlets to date,” Batten told Decrypt. “I’m not yet convinced that it would have been burnt off anyway.”

Edited by Ryan Ozawa.


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