Iran's Ministry of Industry, Mining and Commerce has issued more than 1,000 cryptocurrency mining licenses for national operations.
According to a report published on January 24 by the Means of Reference of the Economic and Banking System of Iran (IBENA), a member of the blockchain commission of the Organization of the Information Technology and Communications Guild (ICT), Amir Hossein Saeedi Nai informed the public about the number of licenses issued.
He explained that before launching a mining operation in the country, employers must apply for a license, adding that the government had issued more than 1,000 permits so far, and several mining farms had already begun operations. Nai estimated that if the local mining industry operated at full capacity, it would contribute USD 8.5 billion to the local economy.
Banking sanctions in the United States and other Western countries have severely affected Iran's economy. Nai said the country needs foreign exchange volumes, and that digital currency can help facilitate trade by importing currencies, as well as being used to bypass economic sanctions.
The official explained that the ICT Guild Organization is currently working to improve the cryptocurrency mining conditions in Iran. The hope is that the local mining activity will see a revival through the change in electricity rates and the momentum of cooperation between local cryptocurrency miners and gas power plants.
Iran has some of the lowest energy prices in the world at USD 0.007 per kilowatt hour. However, energy shortages and recent blackouts have led regulators to take a more active role in the administration of the country's energy supplies and, therefore, adopt a strict approach to cryptocurrency mining.
The increase in cryptocurrency mining in Iran led the government to significantly increase its electricity rates for the sector from USD 0.007 to USD 0.07 per hour mentioned above, the same price as electricity exports.
In August 2019, Iranian police arrested a smuggler of unregistered cryptocurrency mining machines. As Cointelegraph reported the following November, the country's authorities came to offer a reward to anyone exposing unauthorized mining operations in the country.