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Congo national park survives thanks to cryptocurrency mining

The Virunga National Park in eastern Congo, best known for endangered mountain gorillas, is trying to solve funding problems through a combination of clean energy and cryptocurrency mining.

The MIT Technology Review writes about the history of the project. The park, funded by only 1% of the government of the Congo, is forced to find its own livelihood - traditionally it was charitable donations, grants from international organizations and tourism income.

However, armed conflicts, the Ebola epidemic, and then the coronavirus pandemic deprived Virunga of a significant part of its revenue. In this situation, the park management decided to take an extraordinary step - to build a hydroelectric power station, and use its energy to mine bitcoins.

This is a run-of-river hydroelectric power station, without a high dam and reservoir - so its environmental impact is minimal. In 2020, mining equipment was purchased and the “mining” of cryptocurrency started. In the spring of 2022, when bitcoin was still worth about $44,000, the revenue from the project reached $150,000 per month, the same amount that tourism brought to the park in better times.

According to representatives of the Virunga administration, even after the collapse in the cryptocurrency market at the end of 2022, the combination of hydroelectric power plants and mining still continues to generate profit. The funds are used to pay salaries to employees and new projects designed to protect the nature of the park and help local communities develop.

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