Libyan authorities have dismantled a crypto mining operation in the country’s west, the prosecution in Tripoli said Thursday, adding that 50 Chinese nationals had been detained.
Interior ministry agents searching a farm in Zliten, some 160 kilometers east of the capital, found “minors exploiting significant material capacity to generate virtual currencies with the help of 50 Chinese nationals” who were taken into custody, prosecutors said in a statement.
A video shared on the Facebook page of the Tripoli prosecutor’s office showed several structures without any windows but dozens of industrial fans, with large quantities of computers and hardware.
On Wednesday, prosecutors announced authorities had dismantled another illegal crypto-mining farm in the port city of Misrata, adding it was operated by 10 Chinese nationals.
Such sites, which normally operate around the clock, require strong servers, a stable internet connection and expensive equipment.
But war-ravaged Libya experiences regular power cuts and irregular internet speeds.
According to tech watchdog Digiconomist, mining for bitcoin — the world’s most popular cryptocurrency — requires about 1,150 kWh of electricity.
Many countries worldwide have banned crypto mining including China, which had been a global leader in manufacturing virtual currency before forbidding it in June 2021.
Libya’s central bank banned any transaction in cryptocurrency in 2018, pending legislation to regulate its use in the North African country which is divided between two rival administrations.