Treasure Hunt: Lost hard drive with Bitcoins worth £200m at Newport landfill

A ‘digital wallet ‘containing 7500 bitcoins that James Howells generated from his laptop is buried at the Newport landfill site. 

The laptop is buried somewhere underneath four feet of rubbish and mud at the Docksway landfill site close to Newport, Wales. A £4m hard drive lost inside a football-sized dumpsite.

The hard drive belongs to a computer geek, James Howells, who generated 7500 digital coins on his PC in 2009 when they were practically worthless. Now the value of his bitcoins is at £220million and occasionally rises in value. Aged 35, the IT engineer has offered the municipal council a £55m reward if they were to help in the retrieval effort. 

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James has previously petitioned the council to search the city’s landfill site with no success. To incentivize their efforts he has offered a 25% reward but the killjoy council chiefs argue that they are bound to their licensing permit. James says he had two identical hard drives and he disposed of the wrong one - a decision whose value stands at £200m today. 

According to his statements captured by The Sun, the father of two believes that the hard drive remains in good enough condition to retrieve the Bitcoins even after seven years. He does not give a guarantee on its state but expresses confidence that the Bitcoin files are retrievable. Aesthetically speaking, the outer shell might be rusted but the data is stored in the inner disk which he believes might still work. He went further ahead to state that at some point the value of the files in the drive will hit a billion pounds - more reason for the council to act sensibly on the matter. James guarantees the council that they won’t have to go out of pocket as he has been offered financial backing for the search by a hedge fund. 

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Newport Council says they can’t do much as they are bound by licensing rules not to mention the environmental impact on the surrounding area as a result of a huge excavation operation. The council also can’t guarantee that the hard drive will be located. According to a spokeswoman for the council, the first time Mr. Howells reported that his hard drive was missing was several months after the incident. She further estimated that the costs of digging, storing, and treating waste from the landfill could run into millions of pounds, yet there is no guarantee it will be found or remain in working condition.

What is a bitcoin?


Wanted in Europe
Wanted in Europe
Wanted in Europe, part of the Wanted Worldwide network, is a website in English for expatriates in Europe established in 2006. We cover Europe's news stories that may be of interest to English speaking residents along with tourists as well. Our publication also offers classifieds, photos, information on events, museums, churches, galleries, exhibits, fashion, food, and local travel.
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