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Bitcoin Mining Puts Pressure On Iran's Power

Kitco News

(Bloomberg) -- The electricity-intensive process used to create units of the digital currency Bitcoin has led to a surge in Iranian energy consumption, putting unprecedented pressure on power grids and forcing officials to cut off supplies to so-called mining farms, according to state media.

Iranian miners are taking advantage of the nation's subsidized power rates and are even mining from mosques, which are entitled to free electricity, Homayoun Haeri, deputy minister for electricity and energy at Iran's Ministry of Power, told the semi-official Iranian Students' News Agency. 

Electricity consumption in the country jumped by 7% in the month ending June 21, Mostafa Rajabi Mashhad, spokesman for the Tadvin Electricity Company, told state TV in an interview earlier this week. He blamed cryptominers for the surge.

"The production of each Bitcoin uses the equivalent of the annual consumption of 24 properties in Tehran, or one property's consumption of electricity for 24 years," he said.

Every kilowatt of electricity is subsidized by 5,000 rials, worth about four U.S. cents at unregulated market exchange rates in Iran. This means the production of a single unit of Bitcoin takes about 350 million rials in state subsidies, or about $2,700, according to Mehr, a semi-official news agency. 

Bitcoin traded at $11,770 as of 6:45 in Tehran on Friday, up 38% this month and more than 200% this year.

Iran's Power Ministry is considering enforcing a special tariff on miners in order to mitigate the cost and reduce the burden on power stations, according to Haeri, the deputy minister. Several mining farms across the country have had their electricity supply cut off and mining machines seized by authorities, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency.

Iranians have turned to cryptocurrencies as they seek ways to avert U.S. government sanctions that limit their ability to access hard currency. Iran's central bank banned the use of cyber currencies in financial transactions last year, citing concerns about money laundering and crime.

To contact the reporter on this story: Golnar Motevalli in Tehran at gmotevalli@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Benjamin Harvey at bharvey11@bloomberg.net, Gregory L. White

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