THE Bitcoin pioneer who lost £80 million worth of Bitcoin back in 2013 is seeking to excavate a landfill site where it has been dumped.
James Howells, from Newport, Wales, binned a hard drive that contained 7,500 Bitcoins. By the time he discovered his mistake the drive had been buried in a landfill silo by his local council.
Howells told The Cryptograph: “I need environmental specialists and waste extraction specialists. It is a huge job. It’s not just a hole in the ground.
“A landfill had never been excavated to this extent before except in murder investigations. However, recently a landfill site in Germany has been excavated and cleaned up by a company called Bauer.
“I have spoken to the company about getting involved in my search efforts. I have been putting everything in place, so if the council give the permission I can move very quick.”
Howell’s recovery plan for the Bitcoin hard drive is likely to cost £5 million.
“That is is to cover the digging of the landfill, recovering the drive and data and re-burying the landfill to put it back to its original condition,” Howells, 32, said. “There is four years of rubbish on top, but because the drive is worth so much it is still doable.
“The value of the drive just before Christmas was £175 million because it has Bitcoin Cash coins and Bitcoins on that hard drive. There is one set of private keys, one wallet file, but that private key will access the same amount of coins on both chains.
“My password will work for Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash and I have over 7500 coins on each chain.”
Howells claims to have been one of the first seven people to mine Bitcoin in the world. His lost coins were mined back in 2009.
He added: “I hope I will recover my drive one day because at the moment the Bitcoin price is $9,000, but if it goes up to $50,000 or $100,000 which is perfectly possible, the value of my drive goes to $500 million or a billion dollars. As Bitcoin increases in value, the value of my drive goes up with it.
“There are explorers and companies that spend millions of dollars building ships so they can search on the bottom of the ocean for lost treasure. It is a lot easier to dig a landfill than to search the bottom of the ocean. This is why I think that one day the council will have no choice but to let me, especially as I have offered them a 10% cut. I think in 10 years time that hard drive will be worth over 1 billion dollars. Easy.”
He has been invited to speak about his experiences at this week’s London Bitcoin Cash Conference, but claims the loss of the hard drive is nothing compared to his decision to stop mining cryptocurrency.
“I started mining in February 2009 and mined over 7500 coins using my laptop which was a powerful gaming laptop,” he said. “It was running throughout the night. The fans were loud and my girlfriend complained about the noise of the fans because we had a young child at the time.
“I regret giving up mining at the start of all this. If I had carried on mining and not stopped there is a very real chance I could have walked out of my house with billions of dollars in my pocket, but I stopped mining in April 2009 because my girlfriend was nagging me.
“So that is the bigger regret. We have since split up and I can’t deny that it played a part. It would come up from time to time.”