Crypto Decoded
Crypto Decoded

El Salvador has just started mining bitcoin using the energy from volcanoes

Key Points
  • El Salvador has mined 0.00599179 bitcoin, or about $269, with power harnessed from a volcano, in a first for the country.
  • Bukele indicated in his tweet Friday that the mining project was still a work in progress and that they are in the process of "testing and installing" new mining equipment.
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El Salvador is using volcano power to mine bitcoin

El Salvador has mined 0.00599179 bitcoin, or about $269, with power harnessed from a volcano.

President Nayib Bukele – who has banked his political future on a nationwide bitcoin experiment – tweeted early Friday morning that this is the country's maiden voyage into volcano-powered bitcoin mining.

On Tuesday, the president posted a flashy 25-second teaser video, which includes shots of a government-branded shipping container full of bitcoin mining rigs, technicians installing and plugging in ASIC miners, as well as sweeping landscape aerials of an energy factory in the thick of a forest, bordering a volcano.

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El Salvador is using volcano power to mine bitcoin

The video, which has since gone viral with more than 2.3 million views, is captioned simply with "First steps..."

If the Central American country is, indeed, minting new coin, it will mean that Bukele has made good on a promise first announced in June, when he said that he had instructed state-owned geothermal electric company, LaGeo SA de CV to "put up a plan to offer facilities for #Bitcoin mining with very cheap, 100% clean, 100% renewable, 0 emissions energy from our volcanos."

Bukele indicated in his tweet Friday that the mining project was still a work in progress and that they are still "testing and installing" new mining equipment.

The president also provided a breakdown of the mining rewards so far.

Volcano-powered bitcoin mining has been a thing for a while.

"It's just geothermal energy," said bitcoin miner Alejandro de la Torre, who recently made the move from China to Texas. "Iceland has been doing it since the very, very beginning of bitcoin mining."

El Salvador is literally dubbed the "land of the volcanoes," and already, geothermal energy accounts for nearly a fourth of its domestic energy production, according to official data.

The move by El Salvador is also a boon for the larger debate around bitcoin's carbon footprint.

"A fully renewable, untapped energy resource has been put to work strictly because of bitcoin," said bitcoin mining engineer Brandon Arvanaghi. "Bitcoin is the greatest accelerant to renewable energy development in history."

This foray into mining comes just weeks after El Salvador became the first country to declare bitcoin legal tender.

As part of the rollout, the government added hundreds of bitcoin to its balance sheet and launched its own national virtual wallet — called "Chivo," or Salvadoran slang for "cool" — which offers no-fee transactions and allows for quick cross-border payments. 

CNBC reached out to Bukele to ask about his future plans for state-sponsored bitcoin mining, and we didn't hear back.

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