The President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, urged his fellow citizens to remain in the country and mine crypto. This, he says, is preferable to going abroad to Poland and Germany, like many have before, to work low-paid farming jobs.
Is This The Start Of Belarus Turning To Crypto?
The comments came at a speech to the employees of Belaruskali, one of the largest state-owned companies in Belarus. This firm is responsible for 1/5 of the total global supply of potash fertilizer.
Lukashenko is quoted as saying countries do not welcome Belarusians with open arms. Instead, people of foreign, more developed countries only care when it comes to performing menial jobs they do not want to do themselves.
“We must understand, they are not waiting for us anywhere. And if someone is waiting […] Maybe on the plantations, as Ukrainians often say, the Poles there or the Germans have to squirm, pick strawberries.”
He added that the country has the spare energy capacity to accommodate individuals mining crypto on a mass scale. He also spoke about the availability of derelict industrial sites capable of housing more commercial mining setups.
“Create something with electricity. In the end, start mining cryptocurrency, or whatever it’s called. There is enough electricity in the country.”
The former Soviet Union country depends heavily on Russia’s energy subsidies and discounted oil and gas prices. Which, when considering the international sanctions against Russia, poses something for potential miners to think about.
What’s more, Lukashenko appears to have skipped over the start-up costs required to mine cryptocurrency. Mining crypto is not as easy as turning on any computer and starting.
The Reality Of Mining
Proof-of-work mining refers to the process of solving hash puzzles and receiving the right to “complete the block” as a result. Miners are duly rewarded in cryptocurrency for doing this.
On the face of things, it seems like generating money using electricity is simple. But in reality, it can be painstaking work, expensive to start and maintain, and only sporadically rewarding.
Mining Bitcoin is so competitive that only well-funded companies, who can afford to buy the latest ASIC mining equipment, can do it. It also helps to have access to cheap electricity.
Moneymint.com puts the top three most profitable cryptos to mine in 2021 as Ravencoin, Monero, and Litecoin.
A home miner needs a suitably powerful PC with an adequate power supply and cooling setup to get started. According to this Medium post, the PC must have an appropriate GPU, which needs to be a Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1070 or Radeon RX Vega 64 at minimum for mining ETH.
Used GTX 1070s on eBay in the U.K go for about £350 to £400 ($480 -$550), accounting for the rest of the PC it fair to assume an all-in cost would come to around £800 ($1,100).
Data on Belarus wages shows the minimum wage is around 400 BYN/month ($157/month). That being so, low-skilled workers would struggle to acquire a suitable PC to mine crypto in the first place, based on U.K prices.
Taking this into account, it would seem Lukashenko’s grand plan to keep workers in the country is somewhat ill-conceived.