Authorities in Iran have seized roughly 1,000 bitcoin mining machines from two abandoned factories, according to RadioFreeEurope.
Following the June 27 action, a spokesman for the Energy Ministry said cryptocurrency mining operations were destabilizing the power grid and affecting electrical access for households and businesses. He warned that the government will continue to pursue mining operations, which have proliferated in recent years.
Electrical consumption in the country has spiked 7 percent, according to the minister, who also said the power used for mining one coin equaled the energy used by 24 residential units for an entire year.
Electricity is heavily subsidized in Iran, so the costs of running a crypto mining farm are cheap – as low as $0.006 per kilowatt-hour. Tehran-based crypto startup Areatak was previously reported to be hunting for foreign capital to establish crypto mining sites across Iran, though the practice is illegal.
Chinese firms, too, have set up facilities in Iran, bucking their home country’s image as a crypto mining hub.
The Iranian government is considering setting a special price for the power used by crypto miners, proposed by the Energy Ministry. Though in his speech yesterday, the spokesman suggested that some crypto miners may be locating their power-hungry rigs in schools and mosques to avoid paying utility bills.
A shrinking economy and the devaluation of the Iranian real have reportedly spurred citizens to seek sanctuary in cryptocurrencies.
“Mining these currencies inside Iran will not only prevent money from leaving the country, it will also create currency under the difficult conditions of sanctions,” Mohammad Shargi, head of Iran’s Bitcoin Society, was quoted as saying by IRNA earlier this month.
He also suggested some Iranians could use cryptos as a means to bypass and subvert the strict sanctions imposed by the U.S., following its withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal last May.
Earlier this year the Central Bank of Iran – which had previously placed capital flight controls on cryptos – published a draft framework on the legality of cryptocurrency.