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IT worker James Howells got rid of the unit, which had a 7,500 bitcoin digital store, between June and August 2013. He had originally mined the virtual currency four years earlier, when it was of little value.

But when the cryptocurrency skyrocketed in value and he went looking for it, he discovered that he had mistakenly thrown the hard drive with the garbage.

James Howells says he has hundreds of millions of bitcoins lost in a landfill in Wales.
James Howells says he has hundreds of millions of bitcoins lost in a landfill in Wales. (Shuttershock / CNN)

Now, with his lost bitcoin skyrocketing even further, Howells has reached out to Newport City Council in Wales for permission to excavate a specific section of the landfill where he believes the hard drive ended up.

In return, he has offered to pay the city council a quarter of the current value of the treasure, which he says could be distributed to local residents.

The price of bitcoin reached an all-time high in recent days and is now trading around $ 37,000 (A $ 48,000).

Howells first discovered that the hard drive was missing when his bitcoin was worth around $ 9 million (A $ 11 million). Based on current rates, he estimates it would be worth around $ 273 million (AU $ 354 million).

Experts say criminals are less likely to use bitcoin on the darknet after the case.
Bitcoin is a valuable cryptocurrency that has been increasing in value. (AP)

He told CNN: “I offered to donate 25% or £ 52.5 million (A $ 92 million) to the City of Newport to distribute to all local residents living in Newport in case I find and get the bitcoins back.”

“This would work out to roughly £ 175 ($ 308) per person for the entire city (316,000 inhabitants). Unfortunately, they turned down the offer and won’t even have a face-to-face conversation with me on the matter.”

After discovering the error, Howells went to the dumpster to see where the hard drive might have ended up. He told CNN at the time: “As soon as I saw the site, I thought you had no chance. The area covered is huge.”

However, now he thinks he knows how to get it back.

“The plan would be to excavate a specific area of ​​the landfill based on a grid reference system and recover the hard drive while meeting all safety and environmental standards,” he told CNN on Friday. “The drive would then be presented to data recovery specialists who can rebuild the drive from scratch with new parts and try to recover the small piece of data I need to access the bitcoins.”

“The value of the hard drive is over £ 200 million (about AU $ 352 million) and I’m happy to share a part of that with the folks at Newport if I get a chance to look it up. About 50 percent. it would be for investors who put the capital to finance the project, and I would keep the remaining 25 percent ”, he added.

A Newport City Council spokeswoman told CNN that the local government authority had been “contacted several times since 2013 about the possibility of recovering a piece of IT hardware said to contain bitcoins.”

In a statement sent to CNN, the spokeswoman said the council had not rejected the offer, but was not allowed to excavate the site.

She said: “The council has told Mr. Howells on several occasions that excavation is not possible under our license permit and the excavation itself would have a major environmental impact on the surrounding area.

“The cost of digging up the landfill, storing and treating the waste could run into the millions of pounds, with no guarantee of finding it or that it is still in operation.”

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