Iris Energy Limited (IREN) Investor Update Conference Call Transcript

Iris Energy Limited (NASDAQ:IREN) Investor Update Conference Call May 10, 2023 5:00 PM ET

Company Participants

Lincoln Tan – Senior Manager, Corporate Finance

Daniel Roberts – Co-Founder & Co-Chief Executive Officer

Conference Call Participants

Lincoln Tan

Good afternoon to those of you in North America, and good morning to those of you in Australia, and welcome to the Iris Energy Investor Update. My name is Lincoln Tan, Senior Manager of Investor Relations. And with me on the call today is Daniel Roberts, co-Founder and co-CEO.

I would like to remind you that certain statements that we make during this call may constitute forward-looking statements and Irish Energy cautions listeners that forward-looking information and statements based on certain assumptions and risk factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from the expectations of the company. Listeners should not place undue reliance on forward-looking information or statements. Please refer to the disclaimer on slide 2 within the accompanying presentation. Thank you.

And I will now turn the call over to Dan Roberts.

Daniel Roberts

Thanks, Lincoln. Good afternoon, everybody. Thanks once again for dialing in to our quarterly update. It’s fantastic to be here. It’s been a very busy three months. It’s a nice change from the market conditions that we experienced over the course of 2022, and it feels like we’re in a really good position.

So if we just move through a couple of the slides, 5.5 exahash is done fully operational. We announced this back in February. It is now completed. Really proud of the team, it’s been a monster effort. I’d like to thank BITMAIN again for negotiating the transaction that we did with them. We’ve got about $55 million of cash, 5.5 exahash operating capacity, delivering around that $7 million to $8 million of monthly mining profit, and we’re fully funded to add another exahash over the next little while.

So we’re in a good position. No debt, $55 million of cash, 5.5Â exahash of operating capacity. Just to elaborate a little bit more on the expansion plan. We’re looking to add 20% capacity. As mentioned, 5.5 exahash as currently operating. We think that we can optimize the existing infrastructure and data center capacity to add another 100 petahash to 0.1 exahash, and then we’re looking to build out an additional 20 megawatts at Childress.

I’ll get on to Childress in a minute, but you might recall that we’ve got 580 megawatts of power ready to go. We’ve got 20 megawatts operating. This would double that capacity to 40. We still have 560 megawatts of power available at that site and we’re looking to grow into that over time.

In terms of anticipated CapEx, we haven’t procured miners at this stage. We will look to do that. Over time, we don’t see the urgency. We can give some guidance on what that might cost. There have been some recent market benchmarks that people can refer to. We’re looking to procure the BITMAIN S-19 XP mines as a priority. But ultimately, we’re a manufacturer and model agnostic through procuring th5e XP that would further reduce our production costs, lowering us even further down the cost curve. So there is absolutely a benefit to that. But equally, we’ll weigh up pros and cons of different models of miners, both in terms of efficiency, CapEx and reliability of the actual machines and models themselves.

Liquidity is strong even after the expansion. So we’re fully funded for 6.5%. We’ll still have strong liquidity, cash in the bank. Keep in mind that, we’re continuing to generate daily cash flows from the 5.5 exahash that is operating right this minute. Obviously, we’ve seen the fee market and the transaction fee market for Bitcoin over the last couple of weeks really explode, where block rewards, the Bitcoin that we’re mining is far above what we had in our financial models. I think the other day, it was 24, 25 Bitcoin for the 24-hour period, substantially above the kind of mid-teens that you would be expected to produce with 5.5 exahash.

So we’re in a really good position. The market is in a really good position. We know it can change. We’ve seen it go up and down. We’re really happy that we’ve got the committed equity facility to give us that further optionality. We’ll look to use it as appropriate. It’s good to have liquidity into the daily order book as required, and we’ll look to use it where we think we can be accretive to shareholders continue to grow in a prudent manner and be sensible around how we deploy capital over time.

Just to recap on Childress. It is a transformational growth opportunity and the hardest work is done. We’ve spent years on this site. We’ve spent tens of millions of dollars, a lot of hard work a lot of long lead items, 600 megawatts of power. It is ours. We own it all. We own the 600-megawatt transformer, 600 substation, 100-megawatt medium voltage, the large site, the 20-megawatt building like it is all Iris’. We’re not relying on anyone else to come to the party. We’ve got a straight channel to 600 megawatts of ERCOT power.

So as I mentioned the next 20 megawatts, is now underway. We look to expand that over time as market conditions allow us. We’ll look to procure long lead items in a sensible manner, as well so that we’re not always started from scratch for each 20-megawatt building.

As you’re aware, we’ve got a 100-megawatt medium voltage substation energized ready to go. We’ve got another 100-megawatt medium voltage substation already on site, which would require commissioning, but those two 100-megawatt transformers would give us another 160 megawatts of relatively near-term capacity, on top of the 40 that is either under construction or operating today.

So, strategically we’re really pleased with this site. We’ve obviously got a number of other development opportunities around the world that we’re progressing. We don’t talk too much about them, but they exist. We’re continuing to move the ball along and ensure that from a power and infrastructure perspective, we’re really well placed over the years to come.

Now this slide, I’m really excited about and really want to delve in. So we always said, that Childress and accessing the ERCOT market was really exciting in the sense, that we could integrate with renewables integrate, with the volatile nature of a deregulated power market and look to essentially start trading.

Trading off Bitcoin mining profitability, versus energy market pricing. For example, we’ve got a facility where we can either choose to take power that we procure under contract, monetize that into revenue by the Bitcoin network, or if the energy market values that power higher, we just sell the power back to the market.

Now, when you add that market dynamic to what we’ve now developed and got up and running from day one, which is well ahead of our own internal expectations, we’ve now got the ability to trade that live time and choose our own adventure. And by choosing own adventure, I’m referring to power price.

So for the last six to 12 months people have said, what power price will you have at Childress? And I said, we can pick it. We can decide it. And this is the way that we’ve structured our business. This is why we’ve built proper data centers. This is why we own all the infrastructure. We directly interface, with energy markets. We’ve now built a proprietary system that integrates mechanical infrastructure, software, hardware, directly interface with the energy market in ERCOT to trade power live time.

So I’ll draw your attention to the two charts. The first chart in the middle of the page basically, is a way that we can flex the amount of Bitcoin we produce, to gold seek or back solve what power price that we work. So, if we want three in a bit sense power then, we’ll just operate and generate 80 Bitcoin per exahash, and this is all based on current market conditions.

However, if we decide market conditions have deteriorated or we’d like a lower power price for another reason, then we’ll throttle the number of Bitcoin that our machines are producing, to lower that power price. So this provides enormous flexibility, enormous downside protection. So if you think about resilience going forward and we’ve spoken, a lot about this in a sector where you’ve got this exponential upside, it is important to manage the downside. We’ve got the having coming up next April, the ability to flex our power price and go as low down the cost curve as you really want, by using this proprietary system is really exciting for us. We didn’t expect to have it done day one. We wanted to have baby steps. But in the background the team has actually been trialing this system at our BC facilities. So we’ve been using our British Columbia facilities but the ERCOT price signal to test all this and it’s worked from day one.

A nice little example there on the 1st of May is the chart on the right-hand side. The green is our power consumption. So how much power our mine is using. The red dotted line is the real-time market price of electricity. Now as you can see, as that power price in the market exceeded a certain level, our systems automatically put our miners to sleep. Hence you see the drop in the green.

We then sold that power back to the market, effectively receive that as a revenue line or a rebate against our power cost to drive us further down the power curve, the cost curve rather and then as soon as the market price the power fell again, we just automatically switched on. No human intervention. This is all fully integrated end-to-end and automated.

So we’re really excited about this. We think it’s a fantastic opportunity to continue expanding. And it’s exactly what we said we wanted to do many years ago when we set up this business, which is to provide that demand-side battery where we can support markets with a heavy penetration of intermittent renewables and ultimately derive substantial financial benefit for our shareholders from that.

So that’s it for me. I’d like to pass back to Lincoln to go through some of the financials. Lincoln.

Lincoln Tan

Thanks Dan. So this page I just step through the illustrative unit economics associated with our self-mining operations across a range of different Bitcoin prices. As to just looking at the top of the page, that’s just reflective of where we are today at 5.5 exahash. That capacity is already generating very strong operating cash flows just to illustrate at a 30,000 Bitcoin price, mining profitability is approximately $90 million on an annualized basis.

And stepping down to that shaded green box there, which reflects our post-expansion operating capacity at 6.5 exahash, you can see that annualized mining profits are expected to step up by about $20 million per annum, up to $110 million per annum. So from a financial perspective, this really represents a very material uplift in our earnings and cash flow generation potential.

And finally, here on this page, it’s just worth highlighting that we don’t expect our overheads to increase materially as we ramp up to 6.5 exahash, given the team that we have already in place today, is able to support a much, much larger business.

Stepping through to the next page the peer comparison page. We just wanted to share some observations on our positioning of the sector. So firstly from a scale at 6.5 exahash of self-mining capacity that would really position us as a leading Bitcoin miner and certainly among the top five largest across the US listed market.

Secondly, from a balance sheet perspective and from a liquidity and risk perspective, with that $55 million of cash and no debt, we will have one of the cleanest balance sheets across the sector, which gives us great flexibility in terms of growing the business but also protecting against the downside.

And finally in terms of mining efficiency, again, we’re just really glad to have continued to demonstrate consistent outperformance in terms of Bitcoin mined for exahash capacity. It’s something we’re really proud of because we think it reflects the quality of the facility to build, long-term view that we take towards our investments and importantly the quality of the team that we have on the ground. And for us, there’s a couple of key benefits around this. I mean the first and most obvious one being stronger financials in terms of operating cash flows and CapEx efficiency, because we’re generating that additional decline within the same infrastructure footprint.

And secondly and perhaps, it’s sometimes overlooked there’s a great benefit in looking after our mining fleet. Like these chips that we’ve got, these mines that we’ve got a really profitable and we don’t want to let them over heat. We want to keep the dust off them. We want to keep the humidity under control. We really want to look after our assets as the long-term by keeping them operating at optimal conditions.

Stepping through to the next page. We just wanted to reiterate here that our management team remains highly aligned and committed to the future of the business. Our founders, our Board, our management team hold over 20% of the register. We’re still really early in this journey and there’s huge opportunities to come from here. And we just want to acknowledge that we really appreciate your support that we’ve received along the way. We were the first Bitcoin mining IPO led by large banks and we continue to enjoy broad sell-side research coverage. We’re building a multi-decade institutional-grade infrastructure business and we’re here for the long term.

And just before we wrap up, we also wanted to take the opportunity to provide a really quick overview across each of our sites, particularly for those of you newer to the business. It’s been a really big 12 months for us. This time last year, we had less than 40 megawatts energized. Fast forward to today and we’ve just successfully commissioned 180 megawatts of data centers and build a say geographically diversified a very substantial real asset platform across North America.

To this site here, this is upside at Canal Flats in BC, where it all began. We’ve iterated the data center design over time from this side and that’s subsequently been rolled out across our other sites. Just to draw your attention to the photo, you can see, some very large stands in the building here. But these stands basically automatically adjust their operations in response to our get temperatures, so they can ramp up and ramp down to optimize airflow and minor performance and that ultimately enables us to operate optimal efficiency right throughout the year.

At Canal Flats, we’ve also got a fabrication facility and an in-house R&D and engineering team that basically provides support to all of our sites. Mackenzie, this was our second site. It’s our largest operating site at 80 megawatts of capacity and is located about two hours away from Prince George. Like Canal Flats, we own the real estate. We’ve got the direct connection to the BC Hydro network. It eliminates counterparty risk and gives us great control over the operations.

Prince George is our third site. It’s a 50-megawatt facility that came online in September last year and we leased the land but it’s a 50-year lease and includes two by 10-year options to renew, as well as an option to purchase within the first 10 years. And the design of this site quite similar to Mackenzie, it’s operating really well at the moment. And like all of our sites in British Columbia, it’s powered by 100% renewable energy from BC Hydro.

And finally, Childress, as we mentioned the initial 20 megawatts was commissioned just a few weeks ago. The next 20 megawatts is now underway. As you can see from the photo the site itself is gigantic at over 300 acres. The design of the facilities leverages what we’ve got in BC and tweaks it for the local conditions. As Dan mentioned, it’s very deliberately located in the Panhandle region of Texas. It’s very renewable heavy over there. And geographically speaking and the region is also in the northern part of West Texas which is dryer and less humid compared to other parts of the state.

So, just to wrap things up, thank you everybody for dialing in and giving us the opportunity to share our plans for growth. We appreciate all of your support. It’s been a great start to 2023 in terms of delivering the ramp-up to 5.5 exahash and we’re all really excited about adding that next exahash. Please reach out, if you’ve got any questions about the business or the sector more generally, the team is always happy to chat. Enjoy the rest of your evening if you’re in North America and the rest of your day in Australia. Thank you very much.

Question-and-Answer Session

End of Q&A