Crypto mining in a northern Kosovo municipality dominated by Serbs has been targeted by authorities and police who conducted searches, Friday.
Kosovo police have reportedly confiscated dozens of cryptocurrency mining devices from residents of a predominantly Serb district in the north of the nation, according to the Turkish Anadolu Agency, which cited a member of the Albanian-led government in Pristina.
According to Artane Rizvanolli, minister of the economy, 174 unregistered hardware used to generate virtual currency were seized.
Nobody’s Paying Their Electricity Bill
Kosovo, which is majority-Albanian, has had trouble billing the Serb population of northern Kosovo for electrical consumption for the past 23 years, since it declared independence from Serbia.
While only 2% of the city’s total 1.8 million residents live in the four northern municipalities, they use 6% of the city’s power and their usage is on the rise, from 214 GWh in 2011 to 267 GWh in 2017 and 372 GWh in 2021.
Reportedly, unpaid electricity and water invoices in four Serb municipalities in northern Kosovo exceed €300 million, or nearly $330 million.
Announcing the operation on social media, Rizvanolli said that the nonpayment of electricity bills encourages illegal crypto mining activities.
The Economy Minister said:
“Failure to pay electricity bills encourages such illegal activities. Therefore, Serbia hinders the implementation of the energy deal.”
She added that they have fulfilled all their commitments and that “it’s time for the other side to do the same.”
In an effort to reduce unpaid power use, the government of Kosovo has announced a temporary ban on crypto mining until the end of 2021 and has begun a crackdown on smuggled equipment.
Tensions Over Seizure Of Crypto Mining Rigs
According to Adriatik Stavileci, spokeswoman for Kosovo’s customs department, customs officials seized approximately 700 graphic processing units (GPUs) and 336 high-speed Antminers with an estimated worth of slightly over 167,000 euros between January 1, 2022, and March 31, 2022.
The action has the potential to increase tensions in the ethnically split, partially recognized Balkan state, and authorities in Pristina and Belgrade have already traded barbs over it.
An attempt to increase tensions in the secessionist region, according to Belgrade, is behind the crackdown.
The Serbian government’s coordination organization for Kosovo and Metohija said the raids targeted Serbs on a day holy to the Serbian Orthodox Church, and the police operation was described as a continuation of the harassment of the Serbian people.
Crypto Mining Expected To Grow Globally
Kosovo, which is mainly populated by ethnic Albanians, declared independence from Serbia in 2008.
Serbia still considers its former province to be a part of its jurisdiction, hence it has not acknowledged the country’s independence.
With a projected CAGR of 12.90% between 2023 and 2032, Precedence Research estimates that the worldwide cryptocurrency mining market will expand from its current valuation of $1.92 billion in 2022 to $7 billion in 2032.