PRISTINA (Reuters) – Kosovo’s government on Tuesday introduced a ban on cryptocurrency mining in an attempt to reduce electricity consumption as the country faces the worst energy crisis in a decade due to blackouts of production.
“All law enforcement agencies will stop production of this activity in cooperation with other relevant institutions that will identify locations where there is cryptocurrency production,” said the Minister of Economy and Energy Artane Rizvanolli in a press release.
Due to the low electricity prices in Kosovo in recent years, many young people in Kosovo have become involved in crypto mining.
Faced with blackouts of coal-fired power plants and high import prices, authorities were forced to introduce blackouts last month.
European gas prices climbed more than 30% on Tuesday after weak supplies from Russia rekindled concerns of an energy crisis as colder weather approaches.
In December, Kosovo declared a state of emergency for 60 days, which will allow the government to allocate more money to energy imports, introduce more power cuts and tougher measures.
A miner, who requested anonymity and who owns 40 GPUs (Graphics Processing Units), told Reuters he pays around 170 euros per month for electricity and makes about 2,400 euros per month in profit of mining.
Coin mining is on the rise in northern Kosovo, which is mainly populated by Serbs who do not recognize the state of Kosovo and refuse to pay for electricity.
The country of 1.8 million people now imports more than 40% of its consumed energy with high demand in winter when people use electricity mainly for heating.
About 90% of Kosovo’s energy production comes from lignite, a soft coal that produces toxic pollution when burned.
Official figures show that Kosovo has the fifth largest reserves of lignite in the world, at 12 to 14 billion tonnes.
(Reporting by Fatos Bytyci; editing by David Evans)
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