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In 2013 James Howells mistakenly discarded a hard drive containing roughly 7,500 BTC. Now he wants to dispatch robots to retrieve it from a local landfill.
It's not just about robots. Finding this hard drive is now turning into a massive investment project. Howells is backed by a few venture capitalists and tries to pitch his idea to the Newport City Council. To fulfil his wish, Howells will have to employ hundreds of people, robot dogs and other machines picking up and sorting 110,000 tons of garbage. This may take up to three years until the lost Bitcoin is found. Another version of Howells’ plan would cost $6 million and take 18 months.
Howells threw away the hard drive containing BTC in 2013 thinking it was blank, only realizing months later that he had potentially lost millions of dollars’ worth of crypto.
This is not the first time Howells tries to persuade the Council to allow him to search the land fill. In January 2021 Howells had offered the city up to 25% of the value of the lost currency, but was still not given the opportunity to search.
The city Council has its own reasons to do so:
There is nothing that Mr. Howells could present to us [for approval]. His proposals pose significant ecological risk, which we cannot accept and indeed are prevented from considering by the terms of our permit.
Howells, however, has his own plan:
If we’re successful in recovering the coins, then I made a pledge to the people of Newport to literally give people in Newport crypto directly. I could spend the rest of my life working a day job and never come close to anything of the value that’s on that hard drive.
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