Whistle-blowers tipped off authorities on unauthorized miners following a July announcement of rewards including 100 million rials (about $2,400).
Tavanir deputy head Mostafa Rajabi Mashhadi told Fars News Agency that the blitz on unlawful crypto mining had been previously limited because the power company “cannot detect all illegal farms solely by studying their consumption patterns.”
Iran’s bitcoin (BTC) miners welcomed authorization in July last year, but subsequently complained about high power tariffs. Some have started operating underground using subsidized electricity.
According to Rajabi Mashhadi, some miners set up equipment at industrial and agricultural units that are already power-intensive to avoid detection. “Therefore, Tavanir’s monitoring reveals no significant change in consumption of this particular category,” he added.
Iran, the world’s third-largest oil-producer, has also been battling smuggling of mining equipment into the country.
Since 2019, the Islamic Republic has issued 624 mining farm permits, the Financial Tribune reports, but some of the licensed farms are idle. Last month, Iranian Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri Kouhshahi said that all miners will soon be required to register with the government.
Iran’s biggest drawcard is its cheap electricity, pulling in BTC miners from as far afield as Ukraine and China. According to official data, mining farms in the country pay as little as 4,800 rials ($0.01) per kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity but rates increase four-fold to 19,300 rials ($0.05) during the peak summer season, from June to September.
As news.Bitcoin.com reported, the state power utility announced in July that it will cut up to 47% of the electricity tariff for miners during the peak consumption periods in an effort to incentivize legalized mining. However, to be eligible for the incentive, bitcoin miners will need to participate in Tavanir’s “power efficiency projects” including the ongoing replacement of one million old air conditioners.
The Iranian government’s attraction to bitcoin is both political and economic, primarily motivated by the desire of financial freedom from U.S. governmental overreach.