The Energy Administration in the Southwestern Chinese province of Yunnan today clarified to Forkast.News on a phone call that it has issued a notice ordering inspections of power use in Bitcoin mining.
The details of the notice were reported by the China Securities Journal on Saturday. It stated that any Bitcoin miners found to have used unauthorized access to electricity or who have evaded paying power bills would have their power supplies cut off immediately, and that any miners that may pose safety risks due to their use of power would have their operations shut down and undergo rectifications. That came after Forkast.News broke news on Friday upon hearing of a rumored ban on crypto mining in the province.
Yunnan’s energy authority declined to comment on the progress of the crackdown. The campaign is expected to be completed by the end of June, according to local media reports.
One crypto industry source who asked for anonymity told Forkast.News on Monday that his mining operations in Yunnan have had to close down. He said that the hydropower station that supplied electricity to his mining facilities had received the government notice.
Yunnan has been one of the go-to places for crypto miners in China, thanks to the province’s abundant hydropower resources. It appears to be a common practice for miners to receive electricity directly from hydropower stations to avoid fees paid to the government or the State Grid.
“It’d make sense if [miners] use excess electricity,” said Yushi Chen, a lead researcher at the Digital Alliance Institute for Digital Finance Research, in a phone interview on Tuesday with Forkast.News, adding that Yunnan had recently suffered from droughts.
The International Tin Association said in late May that some smelters in Yunnan had been forced to reduce their power consumption as the province struggled to keep power generation at normal levels due to droughts in the region.
Chen said that the power shortages may be one of the factors prompting the Yunnan crypto mining crackdown, but “essentially it is in line with the State Council’s statement in May.”
Vice Premier Liu He and the State Council — the country’s cabinet — said in May that it was necessary to “crack down on Bitcoin mining and trading behavior, and resolutely prevent the transmission of individual risks to society.”
The enormous amount of energy required to carry out crypto mining is considered a key concern for the Chinese government, Seen-meng Chew, a professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong Business School, told Forkast.News last week.
“[Crypto mining] is going against the Chinese plan of becoming carbon neutral by 2060,” he said. “It is a very energy-intensive activity, so more greenhouse gases may be released as a result of these crypto mining activities that consume lots of computing power.”
See related article: How serious is the threat of Bitcoin mining to the environment?
Kelly Le contributed to this report.