Facing a sudden energy shortage, officials must be regretting their recent embrace of the crypto industry, Eurasianet analysed.
Nur-Sultan has struggled to land on a consistent policy toward cryptocurrencies and mining – the series of electricity-hungry calculations made by networked computers to verify and record cryptocurrency transactions.
Only 3 years ago, the National Bank called for a ban on trading cryptocurrencies and mining them.
Then, in 2020, parliament passed a law legalizing mining and creating welcoming conditions for the industry.
The bill introduced the concept of a «digital asset» and laid the groundwork for licensed cryptocurrency brokers to set up shop.
The legislation also established rates for taxes to be collected from miners and new, increased electricity tariffs to begin next January.
Speaking shortly after the bill passed, Digital Development Minister Bagdat Musin told a government meeting that:
- 13 mining farms had already begun operating in Kazakhstan with investments totaling $188 million
- By 2025, mining investments would reach $1.2 billion
Many farmers simply moved operations across the border, turning Kazakhstan into the world’s 2nd-largest crypto miner.
The country’s share of global mining soared from 1.4 % in September 2019 to over 18 %, according to data collected by Cambridge University.
The Blockchain and Data Center Industry Association, a lobby group, estimates that as many as 250,000 mining devices are hosted in Kazakhstan today.
Those computers demand vast amounts of power.
Energy Minister Magzum Mirzagaliyev said on September 30:
- We have seen that our [country's] electricity consumption has literally increased by 7 % in 1 year
- That's a very big increase
- Consumption usually grows by about 2 % per annum
That suggestion drew criticism from miners.
The Blockchain and Data Center Industry Association argued that the government should crackdown on illegal miners instead of restricting companies that pay taxes.
On October 15, the national grid operator, KEGOC, announced electricity rationing after 3 major coal-fired power plants shut down.
KEGOC did not directly blame miners, but it used language similar to the energy minister’s and said it was cutting off customers who «over-consume».