Mining vs. mining: Bitcoin may be an energy hog, but nothing eats quite like gold

Often referred to as "digital gold," bitcoin has taken a lot of criticism over the energy costs of "mining" it. But the computation heavy process that bitcoin uses appears to be far less resource intensive than the energy costs to produce the yellow metal. A detailed analysis at LongHash attempted to approximate the total energy expended on bitcoin mining and concluded it was about $4.3B worth. The analysis then explores a leading gold miner's total cost of operations, a stunning $794 per ounce of gold -- the metal currently sells for $1,200/oz.. The source for the info is the annual report of the firm Barrick, which spends so much on diesel to mine gold that it's possible to extrapolate a whopping $6.0B is spent just on fuel for gold mining.

That leads to the conclusion that gold mining uses around 0.27% of worldwide oil production vs. bitcoin's 0.07% use of global electricity. While that may be apples to bananas, it's worth noting that gold ore requires significant energy to process and smelt into gold ingots, so the $6.0B figure likely understates the true energy cost of gold mining significantly. (Source: LongHash)

About Author

John Biggs is an entrepreneur, consultant, writer, and maker. He spent fifteen years as an editor for Gizmodo, CrunchGear, and TechCrunch and has a deep background in hardware startups, 3D printing, and blockchain. His work has appeared in Men’s Health, Wired, and the New York Times. He runs the Technotopia podcast about a better future. He has written five books including the best book on blogging, Bloggers Boot Camp, and a book about the most expensive timepiece ever made, Marie Antoinette’s Watch. He lives in Brooklyn, New York. Disclosure: Biggs owns and maintains cryptocurrencies in a private account and has been consulting with startups regarding blockchain-based products. He also edits and writes for startup clients.

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