I find it fascinating that nearly everyone refers to the algorithmic generation of cryptocurrencies (CC) as mining. Personally, I've never found minting in this context.
In my understanding of the semantics of these two words applied to money, fiat money are invariably minted, but precious metals are mined. Back in the times before fiducials came into adoption¹, money had been minted from previously mined metals (from iron in the ancient Sparta to gold in more refined societies). Simply put, I've never heard about a discovery of a natural deposit of dollar bills or pound sterling coins that could be mined.
I am wondering how has the word mining became applicable to CC generation. I want to stay firmly on a descriptivist's ground here. One semantic connection is the effort required to produce it; indeed, one may argue that, despite the CC's being fiat money example at its finest, the effort required to produce new CC units is sociopragmatically connected to the concept of hard work with limited yield, akin to the arduous labor of mining¹, and opposed to the easy job of running the money-printing press. But I am only guessing; this is not a theory, not even a hypothesis, and, arguably, not even wrong at this stage.
I'm wondering if anyone has come across either or both the semantics-focused research on this topic (such as researching why “mining” has come to accept CC as it's object), or that on the etymological side of this seemingly new usage (i. e., the history of the usage, and its possible connection to “mining”--did it come into the common use as a corruption of “minting,” or was it applied to the CC from the very start, and possibly finding a connection how did this happen).
Academic publications would be golden, but non-peer-reviewed reputable sources are also interesting to me at this stage of my research.
¹ And then ebbed and flowed a few times in the history of money, last but probably not the final time in the 1972—1973.
² Real mine workers would almost certainly disagree, and I'd perhaps side with them, but that's beside the point.