On Tuesday, the Kosovo government banned the mining of cryptocurrencies to limit electricity consumption as the country faces its worst energy crisis in a decade due to production disruptions.
“All law enforcement agencies, in cooperation with other relevant agencies that identify areas where cryptocurrency production exists, will cease production of this activity,” Economy and Energy Minister Artane Rizvanolli said in a statement.
In recent years, due to low energy prices in Kosovo, many young people in Kosovo have been engaged in crypto mining for a currency like bitcoin.
The government was forced to cut electricity last month due to disruptions to coal-fired power plants and high import prices.
Gas prices in Europe rose more than 30% on Tuesday as low supplies from Russia raised concerns about energy shortages as cold weather approached.
In December, Kosovo declared a 60-day state of emergency, allowing the government to allocate more money to energy imports, cut more electricity and take tougher measures.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a miner with 40 GPUs (Graphics Processing Units) told Acesparks that he pays about 170 euros a month for electricity and earns 2,400 euros a month from mining.
Coin mining has flourished in northern Kosovo, which is mainly inhabited by Serbs who do not recognize the state of Kosovo and refuse to pay for electricity.
The country of 1.8 million people currently imports more than 40% of the energy consumed in high demand during the winter, when the population uses electricity mainly for heating.
About 90 percent of Kosovo’s energy production comes from lignite, which generates toxic pollution when burned.
According to official figures, Kosovo has the world’s fifth-largest reserves of lignite at 12-14 billion tons.