In May 2021, the Chinese government suddenly banned crypto mining, fearing a looming energy crisis. Panicked, miners packed their gear and moved across the border into Kazakhstan, taking advantage of subsidized energy and lax regulation. But as living costs spiraled and energy shortages sparked a nationwide protest movement, miners had to move again. This story has played out time and again across the world, from Kosovo to Moldova to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Crypto miners move in, then move out when the politics turns against them.
This project looks at what is left behind when the crypto caravan moves on, examining the social and economic impacts of the crypto mining industry in the countries that host it. And, it will look at how Kazakhstan — which has now heavily regulated mining businesses—is attempting to build a new crypto economy on what’s left behind.