A recent scientific study by acclaimed journal Nature has compared cryptocurrency mining to mineral mining in terms of energy used for producing the same market value. The study provides interesting insight into this domain and shows how cryptocurrency mining is affecting the energy footprint in the world.

The study, conducted by Department of Energy scientists at the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education, compares major cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum, Monero and Litecoin to aluminum, copper, gold, platinum and rare metal oxides in the Earth’s crust.

According to the study, it reviewed the different mining systems from 1 January to 30 June 2018. It found that Bitcoin mining took 17 Megajoules (MJ) to USD 1 value. Ethereum and Monero used 7 and 14 MJ of energy respectively to create the same dollar value.

In comparison to the cryptocurrency mining figures, aluminum, gold, Copper, Platinum and rare earth metal oxides used 122, 4, 5, 7, and 9 MJ respectively for this purpose. In summary, all metals studied except for aluminum used less energy in their mining than Bitcoin.

An equal amount of energy (7 MJ) is required to mine the same dollar values for Litecoin, Ethereum and platinum. Copper and gold take a lot less in their mining efforts than any of these cryptocurrencies. Rare Earth oxides, valuable for electronics, also consume more energy than Litecoin and Ethereum mining.

The report also states that energy dedicated to cryptocurrency mining is expected to increase in the future, averaging today around 19 MJ compared to 17 MJ in 2016. The study also focuses on the carbon imprint of cryptocurrencies which has been criticized by clean energy experts because of miners’ tendencies to look for cheaper alternatives to fossil fuels for mining purposes.


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