Reports of Mining Sector Cleanup Put China’s Yunnan Province in the Spotlight
Authorities in Yunnan are launching an investigation to identify and shut down miners that are illegally using electrical power to mint bitcoin, Chinese media reports. Inspections will also focus on potential safety hazards and will be carried out by various government departments. The mining industry cleanup is expected to continue till the end of June.
Media: Yunnan Energy Bureau to Pull the Plug on Bitcoin Farms
The province of Yunnan is reportedly joining the crackdown on cryptocurrency mining that’s already underway in other Chinese regions. According to the South China Morning Post (SCMP), local authorities have ordered an investigation into the alleged illegal use of electrical power in bitcoin mining. On Sunday, the publication quoted a June 12 report by the China Securities Journal which is published by the Xinhua news agency.
The newspaper revealed that the Yunnan Energy Bureau plans to cut the power supply to individuals and companies illegally using electricity in crypto mining facilities or evading electricity bills. Safety risks discovered during the checks will also be sufficient to shut down mining operations, states a notice issued by the energy administration.
The mining sector cleanup should be completed by the end of June, Sina reported on Saturday. An official from the energy regulator said the inspections will be carried out jointly by various departments. Mining companies relying on unauthorized access to electricity or evading transmission and distribution fees will face penalties, the news outlet added. Sanctions also await power generation enterprises supporting their activities.
Yunnan’s plans to shut down bitcoin farms were covered in a Coindesk report on Friday, citing Forkast News which had referred to a screenshot of a document appearing to be from the Yunnan Energy Bureau. The copy had been circulating on Chinese social media. Coindesk later corrected the information stating that “The source for this claim appears to have been a counterfeit” and quoting “multiple sources” that questioned the authenticity of the document.
Forkast News had also reportedly been told by an employee at the BTC.top mining pool that the company was preparing to shut down its operations in Yunnan in light of impending government restrictions. However, CEO Zhuoer Jiang later denied that BTC.top had a definite idea about the province’s regulatory policy towards the industry. The executive could not verify the authenticity of the document in the screenshot while others like Chinese crypto blogger Wu Blockchain have said it’s false.
China’s Crackdown on Crypto Mining Continues
The media reports have indicated that Yunnan may be the latest Chinese region to join the country’s current crackdown on cryptocurrency mining. Similar measures have already been taken in Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang and Qinghai. Energy officials in Sichuan held a meeting to discuss the implications of bitcoin mining earlier this month but according to the SCMP, they have not adopted any policy changes at this stage.
While environmental concerns have clearly played a role in the case of Qinghai and the fossil fuel-rich Inner Mongolia, Sichuan relies heavily on cleaner hydropower. The same is valid for Yunnan as well, which is the second-largest hydropower-producing Chinese province. In another tweet on Friday, Wu Blockchain commented:
Compared with thermal power regions such as Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia, hydropower regions such as Sichuan and Yunnan will be relatively tolerant of Bitcoin mining. But the miners are facing problems after the summer, and electricity supply outside of China may be more stable.
— Wu Blockchain (@WuBlockchain) June 12, 2021
China is aiming to cut its carbon emissions to 65% of the 2005 levels by 2030. The People’s Republic accounts for around 65% of the global bitcoin (BTC) hash rate, according to the Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index (CBECI), with Xinjiang alone responsible for nearly 36% of that. Sichuan and Yunnan rank second and fourth, respectively, while Inner Mongolia is third. It’s been estimated that bitcoin mining consumes around 110 terawatt-hours of electricity annually.
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