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The Observer reports:

For bitcoin enthusiasts in Kosovo with a breezy attitude to risk, it has been a good week to strike a deal on computer equipment that can create, or “mine”, the cryptocurrency. From Facebook to Telegram, new posts in the region’s online crypto groups became dominated by dismayed Kosovans attempting to sell off their mining equipment — often at knockdown prices. “There’s a lot of panic and they’re selling it or trying to move it to neighbouring countries,” said cryptoKapo, a crypto investor and administrator of some of the region’s largest online crypto communities.

The frenetic social media action follows an end-of-year announcement by Kosovo’s government of an immediate, albeit temporary, ban on all crypto mining activity as part of emergency measures to ease a crippling energy crisis….

Kosovo has the cheapest energy prices in Europe due in part to more than 90% of the domestic energy production coming from burning the country’s rich reserves of lignite, a low-grade coal, and fuel bills being subsidised by the government. The largest-scale crypto mining is thought to be taking place in the north of the country, where the Serb-majority population refuse to recognise Kosovo as an independent state and have consequently not paid for electricity for more than two decades…. Kosovans spent the final days of 2021 in darkness as domestic and international factors combined to cause energy shortages and rolling blackouts across the country….

Since the Kosovan authorities made the decision, police and customs officers have begun conducting regular raids, seizing hundreds of pieces of hardware. While a 60-day state of energy emergency remains in place, the prospect of upcoming regulation and energy bill price rises leaves the future anything but certain. “There are a lot of people who have invested in crypto mining equipment and it’s not a small investment,” cryptoKapo said. “People have even taken out loans to invest and the impact now is very bad on their lives.”


Read more of this story at Slashdot.