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Mining Bitcoin Takes 3 Times More Energy Than Extracting Gold or Copper, New Research Says

The “mining” of bitcoin, a type of cryptocurrency, requires more energy than that of mining metals like copper and gold, according to a paper published in Nature Sustainability.

Mining bitcoin, which the report points out is often referred to as “new gold,” requires about three times more energy per U.S. dollar than that required to mine gold, the study found.

Researchers at the Oakridge Institute for Science and Education in Ohio also compared the energy consumption required to mine other cryptocurrencies, which were all found to be generally higher than that of gold. Aluminum mining, however, required substantially more energy than all other metals and cryptocurrencies compared in the study.

Mining metal and mining cryptocurrency require a vastly different set of skills and tools.

Cryptocurrency mining is a process in which a “miner” packages a block of cryptocurrency transactions into a blockchain, a ledger of transactions.

The work requires powerful computers, servers, and cooling devices, which all add to growing energy costs. In some countries, energy costs make purchasing a Bitcoin as expensive as mining one.

The power demand associated with Bitcoin mining is predicted to triple this year and if it does, the energy consumption required to mine cryptocurrency will surpass that of entire countries.

The trend has led some municipalities to raise energy prices for cryptocurrency mining operations.