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US Bitcoin Miner to Use Burned Tires for Power: Innovative or Controversial?

2 mins
Updated by Kyle Baird
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In Brief

  • Stronghold Digital aims to use burned tires as a fuel source for Bitcoin mining at its Pennsylvania plant.
  • The proposal has ignited backlash from environmental groups and locals who are worried about the air quality.
  • Stronghold's controversial move continues to fuel the debate over Bitcoin mining's environmental impact.
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Stronghold Digital Mining Co. has always walked its own path in the cryptocurrency industry. The company trades under the ticker SDIG on the NASDAQ and prides itself on being an ‘environmental power company’ that uses Bitcoin mining to drive its eco-conscious agenda.

Notably, Stronghold is headquartered in Carbon County, Pennsylvania. Here, it acquired the Panther Creek Power Plant in 2021 to re-engineer its business model around Bitcoin mining and energy sales.

Bitcoin Miner Proposes New Tactics

Stronghold recently filed an application with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to burn shredded tires as an alternative fuel source at its Nesquehoning plant. The application cites a 1991 EPA report and claims that the tire-derived fuel would meet air quality standards.

The move aims to lower the immense energy consumption involved in Bitcoin mining, a process that necessitates powerful machines working around the clock to solve complex algorithms.

However, Stronghold’s recycled rubber ambition has struck a nerve with environmental groups and local residents. Organizations such as PennFuture and Save Carbon County argue that burning tires releases harmful toxins into the air. This can be known to increase the risk of cancer, asthma, and other health issues for those living nearby.

Linda Christman, who spearheads Save Carbon County, notes that Carbon County is among the poorest counties in Pennsylvania. Critics like Christman argue that companies might exploit the community’s socio-economic vulnerability to move ahead with potentially hazardous operations.

Furthermore, Russell Zerbo from the Clean Air Council highlights that Stronghold had incurred seven DEP air quality violations since taking ownership of the plant in 2021. This casts a shadow over the company’s claim to adhere to environmental standards.

Stronghold Digital Weathers the Crypto Winter

Stronghold Digital Mining has also been grappling with financial woes, recording an operating loss of $14.5 million for the quarter ending in March 2023. Despite a microcap status and market volatility, the firm produced 626 BTC in Q2-23, showing slight growth from 618 BTC in Q1-23. Moreover, the company recently invested $3 million in purchasing 2,000 new miners, signaling intent to expand.

Given its precarious financial situation, the company raised $10 million through a securities purchase agreement in April. This marked yet another capital infusion after previous funding rounds.

Stronghold’s tire-burning proposal is part of a broader discussion surrounding the environmental impact of Bitcoin mining. The firm is trying to marry cryptocurrency with eco-conscious energy solutions. Its methods are contentious and fraught with both ecological and health-related risks.

Bitcoin Mining Energy Sources. Source: Batcoinz
Bitcoin Mining Energy Sources. Source: Batcoinz

Stronghold’s intent to utilize waste material for energy production is commendable. However, its approach raises serious concerns for both local residents and environmental advocates.

As the DEP evaluates the application, Stronghold’s future hangs in the balance, caught between innovation and controversy.

Top crypto platforms in the US | March 2024

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