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Project December 7, 2022

From the River to the Blockchain: the Lebanese Crypto Miners Navigating a Failing State



Despite the collapse of Lebanon’s electricity grid, a burgeoning cottage industry of crypto miners has emerged in the crisis-hit country. They form part of a novel crypto ecosystem catering to Lebanese looking for ways to circumvent a broken banking system.

Miners, who consume large quantities of electricity to mint new coins, rely on workarounds legal or otherwise, obtaining generators or taking advantage of electricity "hotspots," such as local hydroelectric plants.

As Lebanon endures what the World Bank has called one of “the most severe crisis episodes globally since the mid-nineteenth century,” the rule of law is fragile and the presence of the state diminished. Crypto miners are obliged to negotiate new relationships with the communities they operate in, the authorities and fragile state institutions such as Electricité du Liban.

Jacob Russell and Adam Hasan will combine on-the-ground reporting with surveying and data collection to map the strange juxtaposition of Lebanon’s crumbling infrastructure and this emerging technology.

This project will explore the ways in which mining offers respite—and risk—to citizens surviving a failing state and highlights the increasingly atomised nature of authority in Lebanon.


A yellow elephant


Environment and Climate Change

Environment and Climate Change