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Computer engineer who accidentally threw away £149m in Bitcoin is plotting £10m hunt for hard drive


Bitcoin investor who ‘accidentally dumped £149m worth of digital currency in Welsh landfill’ asks site to search for hard drives using robot dogs and AI powered mechanical arms to sift through 100,000 tons of waste.

  • James Howells plans £10million treasure hunt for missing Bitcoin hard drive
  • He accidentally threw away the hard drive in 2013 and now will give an idea to the council
  • Mr Howells has repeatedly appealed to the council for help in recovering the engine

A computer engineer who claims he accidentally threw away his £149million Bitcoin fortune is now planning a £10million treasure hunt for a missing hard drive by scouring a landfill site.

James Howells is set to ask Newport City Council if he can dig up Wales’ rubbish tips – a request that has previously been refused several times – using robot dogs and a sophisticated machine powered by Artificial Intelligence. Intelligence.

The 36-year-old accidentally threw away the hard drive in 2013 and says it now contains Bitcoin worth more than £149million.

He was cleaning out his office when the hard drive was littered with a broken laptop, old keyboards, and mice.

But despite Mr Howells repeatedly asking Newport Council for help to recover the engine – his requests have been refused for the past nine years.

This comes as cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin are again crashing in value in a new digital currency plunge.

James Howells (pictured above) is set to ask Newport City Council if he can dig up Wales' rubbish tip - a request that has previously been refused several times - using robot dogs and a sophisticated Artificial-Intelligence powered machine

James Howells (pictured above) is set to ask Newport City Council if he can dig up Wales’ rubbish tip – a request that has previously been refused several times – using robot dogs and a sophisticated Artificial-Intelligence powered machine

The entrance to Newport's garbage tip, pictured above.  Mr Howells accidentally dropped the hard drive in 2013 and has been trying to recover it ever since

The entrance to Newport’s garbage tip, pictured above. Mr Howells accidentally dropped the hard drive in 2013 and has been trying to recover it ever since

The council had previously told Mr Howells ‘on a number of occasions’ that ‘excavation would not be possible under our licensing permit and the excavation itself would have a significant environmental impact on the surrounding area’.

However, he is now proposing a £10 million search by the council in the coming weeks – backed by venture-capital funding – using robot dogs, drones and an AI machine to sift through 110,000 tonnes of garbage

The proposal has two versions – based on how much of the landfill the council will allow him to filter – using a team of eight experts specializing in landfill excavation, waste management, and data acquisition.

Mr Howells said he had budgeted for security costs including two robotic ‘Spot’ dogs to record CCTV patrols overnight, so no one else could try and find the hard drive overnight .

A mechanical arm will be brought to filter the trash and find the hard drive next to the local pickers.

The IT expert had his first team meeting in May to practice on the pitch at Celtic Manor Resort in Newport, attended by 'The Grand Tour' star Richard Hammond (pictured)

The IT expert had his first team meeting in May to practice on the pitch at Celtic Manor Resort in Newport, attended by ‘The Grand Tour’ star Richard Hammond (pictured)

He told Insider: ‘We are trying to achieve this project on a fully commercial basis.’

The IT expert had his first team meeting in May to practice on the pitch at Celtic Manor Resort in Newport, attended by ‘The Grand Tour’ star Richard Hammond.

Mr Howell’s plans also include ‘building a solar or wind-energy farm on top of the landfill site once the project is complete’.

He believes that despite all this time the hard drive is still in good working order to retrieve the bitcoin files.

Mr Howells said if the project was a success, he would keep just 30 per cent of the cost and split the rest between his recovery team and investors, while giving the rest to local Newport causes.

Newport Council previously told MailOnline that Mr Howells had made repeated pleas for help – but to no avail.

A spokesman said: ‘Newport City Council has been contacted a number of times since 2014 about the possibility of obtaining a piece of IT hardware said to contain Bitcoins.

Mr Howells said he had budgeted for security costs including two robotic 'Spot' dogs (pictured) to record CCTV patrols overnight, so no one else could try and find the hard drive overnight.

Mr Howells said he had budgeted for security costs including two robotic ‘Spot’ dogs (pictured) to record CCTV patrols overnight, so no one else could try and find the hard drive overnight.

‘The first time was a few months after Mr Howells first realized the hardware was missing.

‘The cost of digging up the landfill, storing and treating the waste can run into millions of pounds – with no guarantee that it will ever be found or that it will ever work.

‘The council has also told Mr Howells on a number of occasions that excavation cannot be carried out under our licensing permit and the excavation itself will have a significant environmental impact on the surrounding area.

‘Even if we were able to agree to his request, there is the question of who will meet the costs if the hard drive is not found or is damaged to such an extent that the data cannot be recovered.

‘We, therefore, clearly cannot help him in this matter.’

MailOnline has contacted Newport City Council for comment.

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