Chinese cryptocurrency miners have made requests to the Iranian government through official channels to leverage the cryptocurrency mining operations in the country, reported Iran press PressTV.
According to Mohammad Sharqi, managing director of the Iran Blockchain Association — a nonprofit community which promotes blockchain technology — conversations have been held with the Chinese miners about their plans in Iran.
“The Chinese have made requests through official channels for cryptocurrency mining in free zones,” Sharqi told the Iranian press.
Prior to that, the country had been attracting a growing number of bitcoin miners, especially Chinese miners, due to its cheap electricity touted at prices as low as $0.006 per kilowatt-hour.
In June 2019, a 7 percent spike in power consumption led the Iranian authorities to blame illegal cryptocurrency mining operations for the big increase in the country’s electricity usage. Following that, state-run electric company spokesperson Mostafa Rajabi Mashhad warned that illegal mining facilities would be cut off from the grid, which soon generated a chorus of recrimination which has touched off a peremptory crackdown on bitcoin miners.
With concerns that these mining activities might go underground and into the homes of ordinary people, Sharqi has suggested that the energy ministry had better regulate cryptomining by giving out licenses for industrial and commercial utilization of electricity.
On the other hand, the Iranian government is facing a serious dilemma, as the country is considering adopting a virtual, decentralized currency which could provide a back-channel to bypass U.S. sanctions.
On July 6, 2019, Iran’s Minister for Communications and Information Technology Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi admitted that the Chinese were interested in tapping the Iranian cryptocurrency market.
“If there is a demand by foreign investors in this regard, the Ministry of Energy could take advantage of it and welcome them in order to develop infrastructure and produce electricity,” Sharqi said.