Dozens of cities across Iran have witnessed frequent power cuts since early January. Iranian Minister of Energy Reza Ardekanian admitted that these outages might have been caused by “bitcoin farms” consuming large amounts of power.
What he did not admit, however, was that many of these farms, while located in Iran, are owned by Chinese companies, according to an investigation by ‘FRANCE 24 Observers team’. France 24 is a French state-owned international news television network based in Paris.
The team following their investigation has published a report titled, “In Iran, power outages reveal the secret business of Chinese bitcoin farms”
The report quotes an official from Iran’s Kerman province saying that there was a bitcoin farm near the town of Rafsanjan that was consuming enormous amounts of energy. According to authorities, this farm is the largest legal operation of this type in Iran.
Chinese bitcoin company RHY tries to remain discreet about its activities in Iran. It never mentions the country “Iran”, instead vaguely using the term “Middle East”, which it says is a “paradise” for bitcoin producers, according to ‘FRANCE 24 Observers team’.
Some Chinese companies have jumped at the opportunity and invested in bitcoin production in Iran. But they are now facing two problems: firstly, the numerous power outages and secondly, a growing anti-Chinese sentiment amongst the Iranian population, according to the report.
Iranian authorities have confirmed that there are at least 14 legal bitcoin farms operating in the country. Altogether, they consume around 300 megawatts of electricity. That’s the same amount consumed by a town of 100,000 residents, at least, in the same time frame, according to the report. Some experts estimate the consumption near 450 megawatts of electricity.
In this context, it’s not surprising that people across Iran reacted with outrage when a video appeared online on January 11 showing a Chinese worker demonstrating the different steps needed to build a bitcoin farm in Iran. During this investigation, the France 24 Observers team discovered that another bitcoin farm called Mana Pardazesh Asia is also operating in Maku in northwestern Iran.
“Social media do their job. [Now] the majority of people are informed that the blackouts are caused by China’s bitcoin mining,” an Iranian user said on Twitter, posting her tweet with the hashtag #ChinaLiedMillionsDied.
Iran-Pakistan Border Tensions:
Meanwhile, Iran-Pakistan tensions are rising along the border. At least one Pakistani was wounded after Iranian forces opened fire on smugglers in an area on the border of Iran and Pakistan’s southwestern Baluchistan province.
The Associated Press reported that the shooting at the border left at least two dead and six wounded. It quoted Iranian officials as saying forces had shot at several fuel smugglers on the Pakistani side of the border
Sanaullah Baloch, a Pakistani lawmaker and leader of the Baluchistan National Party, said that the number of the deceased and injured was much higher than reported.
“We have reports that several dead and injured have been brought to Panjgur and other districts of Baluchistan,” Baloch said. “I demand a trilateral commission comprising members of the Iranian and Pakistani foreign ministries and Baloch representatives and elders to probe this unfortunate incident and dig out the reasons for why fire was opened on innocent people.”
Iran has not officially confirmed or denied the incident yet.