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Illegal cryptocurrency mining in Iran can cause new power cuts this winter, the state electricity company warned on Sunday. Iranian officials have been accusing unlicensed cryptocurrency miners of using vast amounts of electricity, leading to power shortage.

Illegal cryptocurrency mining will account for at least “10 per cent of electricity outages this winter", the power company said in a statement carried by state news agency IRNA.

Such illegal mining was responsible for 20 per cent of power cuts over the summer this year, it added.

Iran was among the first countries in the world to legalise the mining of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in September 2018, but it requires miners to have a licence.

In May, authorities said that “illegal" miners, who usually have access to subsidised electricity, consume between six and seven times more power than those with permits.

The same month, Iran announced a temporary ban on all cryptocurrency mining, a day after the energy minister apologised for unplanned power cuts in major cities. The ban was lifted in mid-September.

Iran has seen frequent police raids on illegal mining farms for cryptocurrency. Profitably creating, or mining, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies requires massive arrays of computers dedicated to solving deliberately complicated equations -- an endeavour that globally consumes more electricity than some entire nations.

An Iranian official last month suggested that cryptocurrencies could be used to overcome problems related to international sanctions imposed on the Islamic republic.

He was speaking as parliament discussed a report outlining the size of the cryptocurrency market in Iran and how best to use the technology.

Some 19,500 Bitcoins are mined annually in Iran, compared with 324,000 around the world, while around 700 Bitcoins are traded daily in the country, the report said.

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