James Howells accidentally threw away one of his hard drives in 2013. This contains approximately 8,000 bitcoins, of which the combined value currently amounts to 180 million euros. Now the 37-year-old Welshman wants to spend 11 million euros to find his hard drive.
According to Howells, the hard drive is in a garbage dump near his hometown of Newport. The man has already asked the municipality several times to gain access to the garbage dump, so that he could excavate it himself. However, the municipality refused, because the excavation would entail too many ecological risks, such as the escape of harmful gases.
Still, the Welshman didn’t give up. Howells has now collected 11 million euros through investors to find the disk. That money will be spent on ‘experts who can excavate the garbage dump in an efficient and environmentally friendly way’. The investors will make the 11 million euros available as soon as Howells has received the green light from the municipality of Newport.
If the drive is found, the Welshman and the investors want to invest ten percent of the bitcoin on the hard drive to turn Newport into a ‘cryptohub’. “We have a whole list of good things we would like to do for the community,” says Howells against the BBC. “One of the things we’d like to do in the landfill, once we’ve cleaned it up and cleared it, is to put in a power plant with possibly a few wind turbines. In addition, we want to set up a crypto mining company that uses renewable energy to mine bitcoin. mines for the people of Newport.”
Howells also wants to give every resident of the city a converted 60 euros in bitcoin and install cash registers in all stores where the crypto currency can be paid.
However, the Newport City Council does not accept the man’s offer. “We have legal duties to perform in managing the landfill,” a spokesperson told the BBC. “Part of that is considering the environmental risk to the landfill and the wider environment. Mr Howells’ proposals pose significant risks that we cannot accept and consider.”