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Only 3 Million Bitcoins Left Unmined (And 120 Years to Get Them)

Sead Fadilpašić
Last updated: | 2 min read

The Cryptoverse has been holding breath this week waiting for the 18 millionth bitcoin (BTC) to be mined today, while the #3MillionLeft hashtag is spreading on the Crypto Twitter as a reminder of bitcoin’s scarcity. However, this hashtag misses an important point – time. (Updated at 16:52 UTC: numbers in the fifth paragraph have been corrected – it will take 120 years to mine almost BTC 2.625 million.)

Source: pixpoetry on Unsplash

The Bitcoin block mining reward halves every 210,000 blocks, and the Cryptoverse is expecting to see the next one in 2020. Then, we’ll be entering Reward Era 4 of expected 34 in total. There are less bitcoin to be mined with each era, just half of the previous one, while the percentage of the new BTC supply increases less and less as the time goes on. The coin’s inventor, Satoshi Nakamoto, wanted to utilize this method to protect BTC from a disease of a fiat currency – inflation. All this, unsurprisingly, takes a long time to happen.

Since the most recent Bitcoin mining reward halving in July 2016, or in a bit more than 3 years, BTC 2.25 million were mined. Now, starting today, it will take around 8 years to issue the same amount of new BTC. Meanwhile, when compering complete Bitcoin mining reward eras, things are looking even more interesting.

At the moment, we’re in the third Reward era, which is estimated to end in May 2020 by reducing the current mining reward of BTC 12.5 by half.

BTC 2.625 million are estimated to be mined in total during the third era. Now, wait for it, it will take 120 years to mine the same amount of BTC. The threshold of 2 million should be reached in more than 8 years and then it will take approximately 112 years to mine the rest. Then, in 2140, all 21 million bitcoins will be mined.

However, one can also estimate that some of these new coins are going to be lost, as, according to various analysis, anywhere between 2.8 million and 3.8 million BTC have already been lost.

So yes, BTC 3 million left unmined, as well as 120 years to get them all.


Learn more: Halving and Beyond: What the Future Holds for Bitcoin Miners