Iran's power company warns of cuts due to illegal crypto mining

AFP , Sunday 10 Oct 2021

Illegal cryptocurrency mining in Iran risks causing new power cuts this winter, the state electricity company warned Sunday.

A handout picture provided by the Iranian presidency on October 8, 2021 shows Iran s president Ebrahim Raisi (R) accompanied by chief of the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran Mohammad Eslami, visiting the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant, southeast of the city of the same name. (Photo by AFP)

Iranian officials regularly accuse unlicensed cryptocurrency miners of using vast amounts of electricity.

Illegal cryptocurrency mining will account for at least "10 percent of electricity outages this winter", the power company said in a statement carried by state news agency IRNA.

Such illegal mining was responsible for 20 percent of blackouts over the summer, it added.

Iran was among the first countries in the world to legalise the mining of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in September 2018, but it requires miners to have a licence.

Authorities said in May that "illegal" miners who usually have access to subsidised electricity consume between six and seven times more power than those with permits.

The same month, Iran announced a temporary ban on all cryptocurrency mining, a day after the energy minister apologised for unplanned power cuts in major cities.

Authorities lifted the ban in mid-September.

Iranian news agencies have reported frequent police raids on "illegal farms" for cryptocurrency.

Profitably creating, or mining, bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies requires masses of computers dedicated to solving deliberately complicated equations -- an endeavour that globally consumes more electricity than some entire nations.

An Iranian official last month suggested that cryptocurrencies could be used to overcome problems related to international sanctions imposed on the Islamic republic.

He was speaking as parliament discussed a report outlining the size of the cryptocurrency market in Iran and how best to use the technology.

Some 19,500 Bitcoins are mined annually in Iran, compared with 324,000 around the world, while around 700 Bitcoins are traded daily in the country, the report said.

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