It’s Over 9,000: Crypto Mining Rigs Seized in Iran This Year

Iran has faced rolling blackouts and water shortages due to heatwaves, often pointing to crypto mining as a major cause of surging demand

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Tehran, Iran. Credit: Unsplash.

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key takeaways

  • Most of the seized rigs came from a haul of 7,000 in June, the country’s largest to date
  • The Iranian government has repeatedly imposed crypto mining restrictions over the past 12 months

Iran has confiscated more than 9,400 crypto mining rigs over the past five months, all while the country has grappled with power blackouts over the summer.

The mining rigs were discovered dotted all over the capital, Kambiz Nazerian, head of Tehran Electricity Distribution Company, said on Monday and reported by Iran International.

Most of that figure stems from a large haul in June, when Iranian police discovered an illegal mining farm and seized 7,000 units, marking the country’s largest confiscation of illegal machines to date.

Despite being an oil-rich nation, the country has continually suffered rolling power outages and water shortages due to heatwaves, leading to protests in multiple cities.

The government often pointed to crypto mining as a major cause of surging demand.

While reports don’t specify whether all the rigs seized were Bitcoin-specific, Iran contributed as much as 7.5% of bitcoin’s hashrate (the total computing power on the network) in March last year, according to the Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index. Iran’s hashrate has since dropped to 0.2%, as of January.

As part of efforts to combat increased demand for electricity, Iran banned all crypto mining activity in May for a period of four months. The embargo is expected to lift in September.

Iran later cut power to 118 licensed crypto mining farms in June over fears there would not be enough electricity to meet peak demand during the country’s hotter months. 

The government also imposed limits on crypto mining activity in the winter and summer of last year. And while licensed miners have had to abide by the rules, illegal mining operations have persisted.

They’re often found stashed inside mosques, schools and local businesses in order to benefit from subsidized or free power and to conceal their true nature, according to reports.

In January of 2021, authorities in Iran seized 45,000 application-specific integrated circuit machines, found to be using illegally subsidized electricity from state-run energy provider Tavanir.

Earlier that month, Iranian authorities closed 1,620 illegal cryptocurrency mining operations said to have collectively used 250 megawatts of electricity over an 18-month period. 


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