I’ve been working for the past few weeks on a developing story out of Iceland that is so crazy that every individual component could be its own story. When you put it all together, it is a truly unique story that could happen “only in Iceland.”
The Biggest Crime In Iceland’s History
Police have detained 13 individuals suspected in stealing over $2 million in bitcoin mining rig parts. That includes 600 servers, 600 graphics cards and more. It wouldn’t even all fit in a single box truck. That’s insane! What’s even more insane is when you consider that until the advent of smart phones and tablets, most Icelanders couldn’t remember much petty crime. When home-invasions do occur it is by people who have walked in an unlocked back door and walked off with your tablet or pearls. Most stereo and television equipment remains untouched.
Iceland does have a viking past. But more as a safe haven for Vikings than their target. As a nation is has little vegetation and few natural resources when compared to its oil-rich neighbors in Norway: “Iceland is not exactly swimming in anything of value,” says James McMullen, a Canadian Museologist with an MA in Medieval Icelandic Studies from the University of Iceland.
70% of bitcoin mining operations in the world are in China. As their government cracks down on the practice, miners will move their rigs elsewhere. What is needed most is a cheap, renewable source of energy. Even oil-rich Venezuela can’t burn enough fossil fuels to make the demand worth it. Mining rigs run hot and when they overheat they don’t run at all. Iceland boasts server farms that are naturally air cooled and they are powered by turbines that collect steam from geothermic springs. This occurs where melting ice hits the water-table and flows towards one of Iceland’s active volcanoes. Yes, they are truly powered by Lava!
This also means that the highly tuned rigs would run too hot in a warmer climate without renewable energy. As a lot of crypto mining operations move to hydroelectric-powered Quebec, even their governments are thinking of cracking down. Although there it would only eat into the mining profits, as the hydro companies charge energy-hungry mining operations a high rate. All of this means the thieves are unlikely to be able to unload these somewhere outside of Iceland.
15% of Iceland’s workforce are estimated to be foreign nationals. But last week police investigating the appearance of 2 high-voltage cables leading to two shipping containers on a remote island, detained their apparent Russian owners.
Of the original “Iceland’s 11” detained: one included a security guard. Police are investigating these robberies as an inside job over 4 different locations.
After all this work, no one has ever found a single piece of the missing machinery. “This is a grand theft on a scale unseen before”, Olafur Helgi Kjartansson, the police commissioner on Reykjanes, said to the AP. “Everything points to this being a highly organized crime.”
I’m keeping a close eye on this, but for more info on the insane world of Icelandic cloud mining I highly recommend this short doc about Genesis Cloud mining. And please do forward this to all your hollywood executive friends.
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