Iran’s embrace of cryptocurrency mining has been one of the country’s most important policy decisions of the past few years. Yesterday, local news source Tasmin News Agency reported that the Iranian authorities had seized tens of thousands of illegal Bitcoin mining gear in the country.
The machines are primarily application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) miners. The machines’ seizure came following investigations from Tavanir, the state-run energy provider.
Mohammad Hassan Motavalizadeh, head of the energy company, explained that the mining rigs had consumed 95 megawatts per hour of electricity at a reduced rate.
Regulation is Reaping Rewards
The crackdown is easier now that Iran has rules guiding mining operations. The national law on crypto mining states that miners would have to disclose their identities and provide details about their outfits to the Ministry of Industry, Mines, and Trade.
Part of that information includes their mining facilities’ sizes, the hardware they’re using, and more. This way, the government can prevent smuggling and identify illegal operations.
Illegal crypto miners could also be fined anywhere between $25,000 to $5,000 for each confiscated piece of mining hardware. Anyone caught subsidizing electricity will also pay a $20,000 fine.
This isn’t the first time that the Iranian government will take action against unregistered miners in the country. In August, the Financial Tribune reported that Tavanir had enlisted whistleblowers to shut down 1,100 illegal mining firms across the country.
While Tavanir confirmed that some of the miners had been consuming “high levels” of electricity, their report allegedly clarified that their operations didn’t lead to a considerable change in electricity consumption. However, it was important to ensure enforcement in the country.
Local authorities added that whistleblowers had become critical to Tavanir’s investigations as the agency couldn’t simply detect illegal mining firms through analysis. Al individuals who helped the agency in any way received 100 million rials ($4890) for their input, per the Financial Tribune.
Iran Deals with the Other Side of Mining
Although the government now appears to have a significant grip on its mining space, its acceptance of the activity seems to be affecting Iran in another way – environmental pollution.
Last week, it was reported that crypto mining in Iran had put a strain on the country. Coupled with the increasing demand for heat in the winter, this had led to a shortage of natural gas, forcing power plants to burn “low-grade fuel oils” to keep up with the country’s electricity demand.
All of this has resulted in “thick layers of toxic smog’ welling up across several cities. Some power plants have also witnessed blackouts and closed down.
Bijan Namdar Zanganeh, Iran’s Oil Minister, reportedly denied using inferior oils by Iranian power plants.
However, major news outlets have also reported on the worsening air pollution problem in Tehran. IQAir shows that the capital city’s air quality registers as “moderate,” with an air quality index of 65. As of the Bloomberg post, the city had “worsening” air quality, with a 171 index score.