Stronghold Digital Mining has announced that they have raised 105 million dollars in funding to acquire a bitcoin mining power plant at Scrubgrass, based in Venango County, Pennsylvania, which burns super-dirty coal waste.
The Pennsylvania company converts waste coal, a material leftover from coal mining, into power used to mine bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Defined as an alternative energy source by state regulators, waste coal is equivalent to hydropower in its environmental impact. The company estimates that for each bitcoin mined, 200 tons of waste coal is eliminated.
“A negative impact on the environment has long been a criticism of Bitcoin mining, with good reason,” Greg Beard, CEO of Stronghold, said.“Our ownership of the Scrubgrass plant combined with the environmental benefits which accrue to the region allows us to mine bitcoin at what we believe to be some of the lowest costs in the industry while making a transformational contribution to the environment.”
The bitcoin mining industry’s carbon footprint has come under increased public scrutiny in recent months. Elon Musk announced his company, Tesla, would no longer accept bitcoin as a payment method citing environmental concerns. Musk later said Tesla would resume payments once the mining industry reached 50% clean energy usage.
In promoting itself as an “ESG-friendly” mining firm, Stronghold seeks to at least complicate the narrative around bitcoin’s environmental cost. “Coal waste fires have been wreaking havoc in Pennsylvania for the last hundred years,” Bill Spence, co-chair of Stronghold, said. “We employ 21st-century crypto mining techniques to remediate the impacts of 19th and 20th-century coal mining in some of the most environmentally neglected regions of the United States.”