An announcement issued by the Kosovo police on Jan. 8 revealed that it had seized 272 “Antminer” Bitcoin mining machines in the municipality of Leposavic, and another 39 mining machines near Prishtina.
Meanwhile, the police also stopped a driver carrying 6 crypto mining machines with 42 graphics cards (GPUs) near Druar, in Vushtrri. The driver has since been interviewed and released.
The Minister for Economy Artane Rizvanolli tweeted her support for the Kosovo police, writing: “Tens of thousands of Euros per month of taxpayers’ money is saved = energy for hundreds of Kosovar families during the crisis.”
Kosovo’s energy squeeze
In December, Kosovo declared a state of emergency for 60 days amid an energy crisis and electricity shortages. Since then, the Minister of Economy introduced a blanket ban on crypto mining on Jan. 5. Kosovo currently imports over 40% of its energy.
As previously reported by Cointelegraph, Bitcoin mining uses 101 TWh per year or more energy than the entire country of the Philippines. Despite this, miners are increasingly turning towards renewable energy sources, especially in the United States which has become the new hub for mining operations.
According to Netherlands-based news platform The Paypers, crypto mining has been on the rise in Kosovo for some time. Until very recently, electricity has been free for those living in the Serb-majority Northern municipalities since the end of the Kosovo War in 1999.
Related: Iran pauses electricity exports due to crypto mining and hot summer
At the end of Nov 2021, Electricity network system operator KOSTT announced that it will no longer supply free power to the four municipalities in the country’s North: Mitrovica North, Zvecan, Zubin Potok, and Leposavic.
The Balkan country was part of Serbia until 2008 when it declared independence and has upheld these subsidies since. In recent months, several other nations have also expressed concerns about mining-related power outages, including Iran and Kazakhstan.