James Howells, a computer engineer who claims he mistakenly threw away a hard drive that contained some 7,500-8,000 bitcoin (BTC) during house cleaning in 2013, has pledged to use 10% of this lost stash if/when recovered and turn Newport, UK, into a cryptocurrency hub.
The latest BBC report claims the lost amount of BTC to be 8,000. A number of earlier claims, as reported, put that number at USD 7,500.
At the current rate of USD 22,715 per coin, Howells’ lost BTC 8,000 is worth around USD 181.7m. The stash was worth nearly half a billion dollars during Bitcoin’s peak in mid-April last year.
If recovered, the computer engineer plans to use 10% of its stash, or BTC 800 (USD 18.17m), to turn the city, the landfill of which presumably holds the device, into a crypto-currency hub, according to BBC. He said his donation would be used to promote the use and understanding of cryptocurrency.
“One of the things we’d like to do on the actual landfill site, once we’ve cleaned it up and recovered that land is put a power generation facility, maybe a couple of wind turbines,” Howells said. “We’d like to set up a community owned (Bitcoin) mining facility which is using that clean electricity to create Bitcoin for the people of Newport.”
Howells also said that he plans to give EUR 50 (USD 51) worth of BTC to every Newport citizen and install crypto-based terminals in all shops.
Newport council, which owns the landfill the drive is allegedly buried in, has repeatedly denied Howells access to dig the site, citing environmental and access concerns.
However, Howells has claimed that he has secured the funding for the operation and has also gathered a team of professionals to handle the task at “a very high standard.”
“Digging up a landfill is a huge operation in itself,” he said. “The funding has been secured. We’ve brought on an AI specialist. Their technology can easily be retrained to search for a hard drive.”
He added that they also have an environmental team on board, describing the entire group as “a well-rounded team of various experts, with various expertise, which, when we all come together, are capable of completing this task to a very high standard.”
According to the report, the 37-year-old has signed away the ownership of some of the coins as part of the funding process.
As reported earlier in January last year, the Wales-based IT professional pledged to donate 25% of his lost bitcoin to a Newport “COVID-19 relief fund” if the council let him access the site to look for the hard drive.