Kosovo has outlawed cryptocurrency mining in an effort to minimise electricity consumption in the midst of a severe energy crisis.
The move, revealed this week, comes a month after the country’s government declared a state of emergency for 60 days, allowing it to spend more on energy imports and implement power outages.
Power outages caused problems for the Balkan country late last year, with its largest coal-fired power plant closing in December due to technical issues. The country of 1.8 million people is typically powered by the combustion of lignite, a form of coal.
As a result of these issues, Kosovo is now forced to import 40% of its energy, at a time when European gas prices are skyrocketing. They increased by more than 30% on Tuesday due to a lack of supplies from Russia.
Because it consumes a substantial amount of electricity, the government targeted cryptocurrency mining, a process in which “miners” verify blockchain transactions in exchange for virtual money.
“All law enforcement agencies will stop the production of this activity in cooperation with other relevant institutions that will identify the locations where there is cryptocurrency production,” the energy minister Artane Rizvanolli said.
Because energy prices are often low in Kosovo, mining digital currencies such as Bitcoin is popular. Such work is expanding most rapidly in the country’s north, which is predominantly populated by ethnic Serbs.
One miner in Kosovo, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told Reuters that he makes 2,400 euros (£2,000) each month after paying 170 euros for energy.
Kosovo’s decision to cease the practice follows China’s permanent ban, which went into force last year. In other news, Iran has temporarily halted digital mining for four months due to energy issues.