Iranian authorities have announced the seizure of nearly 10,000 illegal cryptocurrency mining devices over the last five months.
Kambiz Nazerian, head of Tehran Electricity Distribution Company, said that since the beginning of the Persian calendar year, which started on March 21, inspectors in different districts of the Iranian capital have shut down tens of illegal mining farms.
Interestingly, many of these unauthorized cryptomining units were reportedly discovered in public locations, such as schools and mosques, that receive free or heavily-subsidized electricity. Earlier in June, the Iranian government ordered licensed cryptocurrency miners to temporarily shut shop due the extreme summer taking a toll on the country’s power grid during the hot months.
Tavanir, the Iran Power Generation, Distribution and Transmission Company, told authorized rigs to halt the energy-intensive mining of cryptocurrencies until further notice as the country faces major power outages in many cities.
The authority said in a statement that “There are currently 118 authorized [digital currency] extraction centers in the country, which must cut off their electricity supply from the national grid from the beginning of July.”
Nevertheless, the state electricity company warned that illegal cryptocurrency mining in Iran accounts for nearly 85% of the industry’s consumption. As such, officials regularly accuse unlicensed operators of using vast amounts of electricity, draining more than 2GW each day and causing 20 percent of power blackouts nationwide.
According to industry estimates, around five percent of global BTC mining is taking place in the Islamic Republic. The flourishing industry allowed Iran it to earn hundreds of millions of dollars from selling cryptocurrencies, which were used to mitigate the impact of Western sanctions.
Earlier in 2021, the national electricity company announced a four-month ban on mining cryptocurrencies. Authorities lifted the ban in mid-September after licensed facilities had voluntarily shut down their operations to ease the burden.
Iran legalized bitcoin mining in 2019
While crypto miners are getting pushed out of many countries, the power-hungry industry in the Islamic Republic got the green light to legally operate. Iran was among the first countries in the world to recognize cryptocurrency mining in 2019. Since then, the country has established a licensing regime that requires miners to have a licence, identify themselves, pay a higher tariff for electricity, and to sell their mined bitcoins to the government.
Although mining bitcoin was less profitable again, recently the business has become more expensive due to a bidding war for mining equipment.
Bitcoin mining is a very competitive industry as miners worldwide are verifying transactions while securing the network for economic incentives. Additionally, the global demand is growing in lockstep with Bitcoin price. The abrupt upside movement of the bitcoin price for most of 2021 meant solid business for crypto miners as they are making a lot of money confirming blocks.