Gold is now a green Bitcoin

Franck Leroy on 2021-03-02

Gold is now a green Bitcoin — and both are disastrous

Gold mining is an absolute disaster for environment, but nothing can compete with the footprint of bitcoin.

Fewer and fewer Bitcoin proponents still claim that this crypto can be used as a daily currency. Bitcoin is now considered a purely speculative asset, like gold.

So how does bitcoin mining compares to gold mining from an environmental perspective?

Bitcoin mining consumes 2 to 7more energy than gold mining

For energy usage, nothing can beat Bitcoin. Mining 1$ of bitcoin consumes 2 to 7 times more energy than mining gold :

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Bitcoin mining is basically metal extraction

“Ok, but it’s not just about energy is it ? The mining industry is also known for being extremely polluting for the soils, right ? “

Indeed ! And on this topic also, Bitcoin doesn’t fail to amaze us :

Bitcoin mining requires very specific hardware, designed exclusively to process hashes, and nothing else useful. This hardware evolves very rapidly and is obsolete every 1.5 year.

We estimate that, each year, around 12 000 tons of specific electronic devices are produced and destroyed. More that 80% of the weight is metal (iron, aluminum, copper, …).

This means than around 10 000 tons of metal is extracted and transformed each year only for the bitcoin mining industry. This is 4 times more than the amount of gold extracted each year (around 2500 tons).

Also, the value of bitcoin production is 1/6 of gold production (17 B$ vs 100 B$).

Hence, overall, 1$ of Bitcoin requires 24 times more mining of metal than 1$ of gold.

Bitcoin mining is metal extraction

One single bitcoin transaction emits more CO2 than 1 ton of gold sent around the earth

“And what about the impact of moving gold around, vs a digital transaction”.

Good question ! The deeper we look into it, the crazier it looks …

One single bitcoin transaction emits around 325 kg CO2. The carbon footprint of freight is around 8 grams CO2 per km.ton for a big cargo ship.

Which means that, for the carbon footprint of a single transaction, you could send 1 ton of gold around the earth (40 000 km).

Sounds crazy ? It is.

1 ton of gold shipped around the world has the same impact as a single bitcoin transaction


While gold mining is an absolute disaster for the environment, we see that its “digital” replacement is far worse : bitcoin mining is basically dirty metal mining plus a tremendous amount of burnt energy.

Any crypto-currency based on a proof of work, like Bitcoin, is ecologically and physically unsustainable.