With cryptocurrencies posting blistering performances recently, those on the sidelines are increasingly tempted to jump in. At the same time, direct exposure to individual blockchain coins and tokens has its own set of risks outside of market volatility. For an alternative, many have turned to crypto miners like Stronghold Digital Mining (NASDAQ:SDIG) stock.
But unlike your typical mining investment, SDIG stock offers an intriguing twist.
As I discussed in my coverage of Stronghold Digital for Benzinga, the company aims not just to be a crypto business but rather promote environmental benefits organically through its operations. Specifically, Stronghold converts coal refuse piles (essentially a dirty byproduct of legacy coal mining that impose hazardous risks) into practical energy, which can then power its Bitcoin (CCC:BTC-USD) mining endeavors.
Further, by extracting the refuse, which are plentiful in Stronghold’s home market of Pennsylvania due to the state’s long history of coal mining, the company offers a holistic business profile: it’s ecologically accretive (through hazardous waste material) and it produces Bitcoin. With the benchmark crypto continuing to soar, it’s seemingly a win-win for SDIG stock.
Indeed, I mentioned in my Benzinga coverage that Stronghold appeared as a modern-day Rube Goldberg machine. As physics students will remember, it’s technically possible to extract multiple reactions from a single catalyst. It’s the same principle with the underlying business of SDIG stock. Through the collection and combustion of coal refuse piles, Stronghold can remove environmental hazards and enrich its stakeholders.
Further, the narrative appears feasible. As the New York Times stated, Bitcoin uses more electricity than many countries. That takes away resources for more “legitimate” endeavors, for lack of a better word. Thus, why not use hazardous waste products from defunct coal-mining operations to mine BTC?
It’s reasonable but there’s a catch.
SDIG Stock Might Not be Scientifically Feasible
As a rule of thumb, if something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Now there are exceptions of course. Personally, I never thought that digital funny money could be used to buy a house but I was proven wrong.
But when the matter involves science, you should be extra skeptical. That’s because the physical laws of the universe is an equal-opportunity discriminator. They don’t give stipends or concessions or distributions because of who you are. You want to convert energy from one form into another? It’s going to require work consistent with the conditions of the system. And that’s where the situation gets tricky for SDIG stock.
Namely, the conversion of coal refuse piles to practical energy for the purposes of mining Bitcoin might not be feasible. For one thing, the concept isn’t new. In some areas, the piles are so numerous that government officials are sitting on an environmental timebomb. Therefore, experts have proposed refuse conversions before.
One of the problems, though, is that the combustion of coal refuse is both inefficient and “far more polluting than new coal plants.” So the idea of imparting a double benefit – replacing refuse piles with Bitcoin gardens – is akin to the concept of a perpetual motion machine. It sounds great in theory but it’s never been proven feasible.
And let’s be real. If waste-to-Bitcoin processes actually worked, scientists would presumably have already jumped on the mechanism for other, arguably more utilitarian purposes, such as waste to winter heating or waste to air conditioning.
However, such initiatives haven’t taken off likely because of the flawed economics. In other words, you need to expend considerable energy to convert the coal refuse into usable, practical energy.
Stronghold Is Compelling, but Mighty Risky
Still, I encourage you to perform your due diligence on the matter before making a decision on SDIG stock. I’m on the skeptical side regarding the practical nature of waste-to-Bitcoin conversions. However, I will be glad to be proven wrong. If Stronghold is successful, it may resolve one of Pennsylvania’s pressing environmental problems – and that’d be a win for all Americans.
But here’s the issue. Even if Stronghold’s scaled-up Rube Goldberg machine works as advertised, there’s still a cost structure involved. Converting coal refuse to energy will never be free. And that means the company is dependent on the sustainability of the crypto market.
Therefore, we have two variables to contend with. First, the viability of the above conversion process and second, the cooperation of Bitcoin, which is never guaranteed. Because of this high-risk circumstance, you should think very, very carefully before proceeding.
On the date of publication, Josh Enomoto held a LONG position in BTC. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.
A former senior business analyst for Sony Electronics, Josh Enomoto has helped broker major contracts with Fortune Global 500 companies. Over the past several years, he has delivered unique, critical insights for the investment markets, as well as various other industries including legal, construction management, and healthcare.