Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) discovered illegal mining at the South Ukraine nuclear power plant. It is still unknown who mined the cryptocurrency, but security officials have already closed the "business." It was in vain, though, because it could have brought billions of dollars in profits on an industrial scale.
Atomic Mining: Ukrainian style
Last week, InternetUA said it had read court documents that show that employees of the South Ukraine nuclear power station illegally mined cryptocurrency at the enterprise.
According to one theory, the officers of the National Guard of Ukraine, who were supposed to guard the station, were mining crypto instead.
The SBU searched the premises of the South Ukraine NPP and military unit 3044, where the National Guard is based. Authorities say they seized 27 video cards and other equipment that could be used for mining.
Security officials say that mining itself is not the only problem. The equipment was allegedly connected to the Internet. This led to the leakage of "the South Ukraine NPP’s protection systems data." The law on state secrets covers such information.
According to the law, if the fact of disclosure is confirmed, the miner can receive up to 5 years in prison. Moreover, if the investigation proves that the leakage has led to "grave consequences," the term can increase up to 8 years.
The NPP itself also reacted to the situation. It confirmed the fact of search and seizure on its Facebook page. According to the NPP, "one of the employees in the warehouse (the only one who had an access to it) was involved in mining.”
NPP reported that it had conducted its own investigation and determined that "the SUNPP computer network was not used for mining." That is why the information on the disclosure of the state secret "has no grounds." The station also accused the media of spreading false information and misrepresenting the facts.
The court order states that the security officials themselves had requested the disclosure of state secrets. The media only provided information from the ruling. NPP representatives did not respond to this nuance. However, they promised to "disclose all the details" after the review.
No matter what, the unauthorized mining has already stopped. It may be in vain, though. Looking at the potential of Ukrainian NPPs, billions could be made from mining.
The billions unearned
27 video cards will definitely not make an impact on the BTC mining market. Nevertheless, if one imagines Ukraine directing its nuclear power generation potential to produce Bitcoin only, then the amounts of earnings will be staggering.
According to Digiconomist, BTC's global electricity consumption per day is 200.3 million kWh.
Moreover, according to Energoatom, on August 22, Ukrainian NPPs produced 189.8 million kWh. Bear in mind that only 10 out of 15 power units worked.
That is, the Ukrainian nuclear power industry can completely cover all the electricity consumption for mining.
Now, let's imagine that NPPs are still going to buy mining equipment and start making profits from mining. According to Blockchain.com, only on August 22, the total revenue of the miners was $18 million, which makes it $6.4 billion per year. This will be approximately 160 billion UAH.
Now imagine that the net income from the sale of Energoatom energy, a nuclear power plant operator, amounted to only 44 billion UAH in 2018. It turns out that mining could bring in 116 billion UAH more.
If only Bitcoins were so easy
Of course, the calculation above is approximate. It does not include the cost of the mining equipment itself, the depreciation or cost of labor, the demolition and maintenance of the NPP, etc.
For example, according to Digiconomist, annual global mining revenue is $7.3 billion, and global mining costs are $3.6 billion. Most of those expenses are electricity bills.
And this is probably not the biggest problem yet. BTC is based on the principle of decentralization. This is what makes the cryptocurrency so attractive and, in general, ensures the vitality of the entire system. However, it can be broken.
If any of the miners accumulates more than 51% of all BTC production capacity, he or she will be able to do virtually anything with cryptocurrency: cancel transactions, spend BTC several times, and simply destroy the entire system. This situation is called 51% attack. All Proof-of-Work-based cryptocurrencies are subject to it, not just BTC.
Therefore, if one seizes full control of the system, the price of cryptocurrency is likely to fall to zero.
It is especially apparent if we imagine that the state of Ukraine, which is not much "loved" by foreign investors, becomes such a monopolist. According to the World Bank's data, foreign direct investments in Ukraine amounted to only $2.4 billion in 2018. Ukraine ranks 60th in this index and is bypassed by countries such as Lebanon and Costa Rica. Therefore, the chances of someone wanting to keep money in "Ukrainian Atomic BTC" are incredibly low.
Regarding illegal mining at power plants, the culprits will have to be punished according to the law.
Editor: Jerg Wos