El Salvador has already mined 0.00599179 bitcoin, which is about US$269 (232.01), with energy harnessed from a volcano. President Nayib Bukele has staked his political future on a nationwide bitcoin experiment. In a tweet this Friday morning he says this is the country's maiden voyage into volcano-powered bitcoin mining.
On Tuesday, the president posted an eye-catching 25-second video that included photos of a government-branded shipping container filled with bitcoin mining rigs, technicians, as well as panoramic antennas of an energy plant in the dense of a forest bordering a volcano.
The video has since gone super viral and already has over 2.3 million views, and is captioned simply with "First steps...".
The Central American state is indeed minting new coins, this means Bukele has made good on a promise first made in June, when he said he had instructed state-owned geothermal electricity company LaGeo SA de CV to "put a plan in place to offer facilities for #Bitcoin mining with very cheap, 100% clean, 100% renewable energy and zero emissions from our volcanoes."
The president also provided the detail of the mining rewards to date.
"It's just geothermal energy," explained bitcoin miner Alejandro de la Torre, who recently moved to Texas from China. "Iceland has been doing this since the beginning of bitcoin mining."
El Salvador is literally known for the "land of volcanoes" and already, geothermal energy accounts for nearly a quarter of its domestic energy production, according to official data. El Salvador's move is also a boon to the broader debate around bitcoin's carbon footprint.
"A totally renewable and untapped energy resource has been put in place solely because of bitcoin," said bitcoin mining engineer Brandon Arvanaghi. "Bitcoin is the biggest accelerator for renewable energy development in history."
As part of the launch, the government added hundreds of bitcoins to its balance sheet and launched its own national virtual wallet, the so-called "Chivo" which offers free transactions and allows very fast international transactions.