Iran’s war on illegal Bitcoin mining continues, with the seizure of 7,000 mining rigs from an abandoned factory.
According to state media, Iranian police have seized 7,000 illegal cryptocurrency mining computers, their largest haul to date of the energy-guzzling machines that have exacerbated power outages in Iran.
Iran banned the mining of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin for nearly four months in late May as part of efforts to reduce the frequency of power outages blamed by officials on surging electricity demand during the scorchingly hot and dry summer.
According to the state news agency IRNA, Tehran police chief General Hossein Rahimi said the 7,000 computer miners were apprehended in an abandoned factory in the capital’s west.
Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are created through the mining process, in which powerful computers compete to solve complex mathematical problems. The process is extremely energy-intensive, frequently relying on electricity generated by fossil fuels, which are plentiful in Iran.
According to blockchain analytics firm Elliptic, Iran accounts for approximately 4.5 percent of all bitcoin mining, generating hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue from cryptocurrencies that can be used to mitigate the impact of US sanctions.
In recent years, Iran has accepted cryptocurrency mining by providing cheap power and requiring miners to sell their bitcoins to the central bank. Tehran allows cryptocurrencies mined in Iran to be used to pay for authorised goods imports.
The prospect of cheap state-subsidized power has drawn miners to Iran, particularly from China. According to Elliptic, generating the electricity they use requires the equivalent of around 10 million barrels of crude oil per year, or 4% of total Iranian oil exports in 2020.