Post-Ban, Kosovo Crypto Miners Evaluate Options
Crypto mining has become a craze, especially in several municipalities in Serb-majority northern Kosovo, where consumers have not paid for electricity since the 1998-99 Kosovo war, when airstrikes by NATO ended a brutal Serbian counter-insurgency war and that the then province became a United Nations trusteeship. The predominantly Albanian Kosovo declared independence in 2008 but still struggles to impose its authority over the north.
Crypto mining requires large supplies of electricity, which in northern Kosovo is effectively free.
In October 2021, Kosovo announced that it had drafted a cryptocurrency law, which parliament was expected to pass by the end of last year. He hasn’t done it yet.
Since the announcement of the government ban in January, some 400 pieces of cryptocurrency mining equipment have been confiscated, the Kosovo Customs Service told BIRN in the divided city of Mitrovica, the municipality of Leposavic, the capital Pristina and the eastern region of Gjilan/ Gnjilane.
“Customs confiscates only in cases where there is no proof of customs clearance,” said Adriatik Stavileci, spokesman for the customs service. Some €22 million worth of crypto-mining equipment has been legally imported into Kosovo since 2015, according to the Kosovo Customs Service.
Many crypto miners rushed to cash out their winnings. Ardian Alaj, the owner of a company that trades cryptocurrency, said there was a momentary “panic” but the situation has since calmed down.
Another miner who spoke on condition of anonymity told BIRN that crypto mining accounts for 70% of his income and that the ban has hit him “very badly.”
Those who have imported their equipment legally and are paying for electricity feel particularly unfairly treated.
“Do they also have to confiscate my microwave because I don’t know if customs fees were paid on it?” asked the miner.
Beqir Rekaliu, the owner of a company specializing in mining equipment, told BIRN: “We have ordered parts and complete equipment for a value of 400,000 euros and the goods remain in stock.”