A large illegal facility for mining bitcoin was discovered by police in the Russian city of Orenburg. The farm has been set up on the premises of an abandoned factory. The masterminds of the crypto project have stolen electricity worth 60 million rubles. They risk years of imprisonment.
Investigating unusual consumption of electricity, police in the Russian city of Orenburg came across one of the largest facilities for cryptocurrency mining in the country. The unknown miners have illegally set up their farm in a closed-down plant, plugging the cables into the nearby transformer station.
In what Russian media described as “a scene from The Matrix”, investigators found racks upon racks of mining processors. The farm was equipped with powerful application specific circuits, and not the ordinary video cards, used by amateur miners.
The ASIC devices have been most likely used to mine bitcoin, as they are able to provide the necessary computing power to process its transactions. ASICs consume enormous amount of electricity and generate a lot of heat. The cooling needed was provided by large industrial ventilators.
The farm was discovered after employees of the local utility company detected suspiciously high electricity consumption from the old factory. The state-owned enterprise went out of business years ago.
According to preliminary estimates, the energy hungry mining equipment has used electricity worth 60 million rubles (more than $1 million), Ren TV reports. The miners never bothered to pay any bills, however. If found by the police, they may be sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Cryptocurrency mining has been gaining popularity in Russia thanks to low electricity rates. Despite calls from officials to take mining out of garages and apartments, many Russians have tried to make a coin or two, using homemade GPU rigs. A string of fires due to faulty hardware has been covered in Russian media, with the latest incident caused by a pensioner in Vologda.
Recent reports suggest, however, that amateur mining is not really that profitable anymore. Several Russian regions have declared their readiness to host industrial-scale mining facilities. Authorities in Leningrad Oblast have invited miners to a nuclear power plant that will be decommissioned within a couple of years. The local Economic Department and the company operating the NPP have already approved the project.
The Russian Federation is ready to accommodate entrepreneurs willing to invest in cryptocurrency mining. Homes and businesses consume less than 60% of the electricity the country can produce. Recently, a Russian businessman acquired two electric power stations to be used specifically for bitcoin mining. Foreign investors are welcome, as well.
The bitcoin farm in Orenburg, however, has not received approval from any government institution. The crypto facility in the old rubber processing plant is definitely not what authorities mean by industrialized mining. Nevertheless, the illegal farm is one of the biggest mining operations in Russia to date.
Do you think the Russian Federation will develop cryptocurrency mining on industrial scale? Tell us in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock, video Mereke Ulmanov (YouTube).
Written by Lubomir Tassev