Kosovo bans cryptocurrency mining to save electricity

Cryptocurrency mining facilities in Pristina, Kosovo, June 12, 2018. Reuters/Hazir Reka/File Photo

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PRISTINA (Reuters) – Kosovo’s government imposed a ban on cryptocurrency mining on Tuesday in a bid to reduce electricity consumption as the country faces its worst energy crisis in a decade due to outages.

“All law enforcement agencies will stop the production of this activity in cooperation with other relevant institutions that will determine the sites where cryptocurrency production is located,” Economy and Energy Minister Artan Rizvanuli said in a statement.

Due to cheap energy prices in Kosovo in recent years, many young people in Kosovo have been involved in cryptocurrency mining.

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Faced with coal-fired blackouts and rising import prices, the authorities were forced last month to cut power.

European gas prices rose more than 30% on Tuesday after lower supplies from Russia reignited fears about an energy crisis as cooler weather approaches. Read more

In December Kosovo declared a 60-day state of emergency, which would allow the government to allocate more money for energy imports, more power outages and tougher measures.

One miner, who spoke on the condition of anonymity and has 40 GPUs, told Reuters he was paying about 170 euros a month for electricity and getting about 2,400 euros a month from mining profits.

Currency mining is increasing in northern Kosovo, and most of its residents are 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 during the winter season when people mainly use electricity for heating.

About 90% of Kosovo’s energy production is 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 from 12 to 14 billion tons.

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Fatos Beitsy reports; Editing by David Evans

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