Sulfur Mines at Kawah Ijen Indonesia

Collection with 12 media items created by Transterra Editor

04 Oct 2013 09:00

In the remote East Java, Indonesia lies the ominous Kawah Ijen volcano, topped with an immense crater and a 200-meter-deep lake of sulfuric acid. It is within this precarious work environment where miners spend their days, hacking chunks of cooled sulfur with steel bars and ferrying up and down the mountain twin basket loads that weigh between 130 and 220 pounds. As they break up sulfur, they are perpetually engulfed in a cloud of smoke. Respiratory issues are rife among the workers because of this, who brave their surroundings with minimal to no protection. There is little pay-off for this sacrifice, as the daily earnings range from a mere $8 - $12. Gloves and gas masks are an unaffordable luxury.

An active vent at the edge of the lake is a source of elemental sulphur, and is what supports the mining operation. Escaping volcanic gases are channelled through a network of ceramic pipes, which causes the condensation of molten sulfur. The sulfur, which is deep red in colour when molten, pours slowly from the ends of these pipes and pools on the ground, turning bright yellow as it cools. It is this sulfur that keeps the miners returning every day despite the danger posed to their health, desperate to make a living.

Photos By: Jeffrey Bright

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Photo Essay Photo Collec... Indonesia Asia Acid Smoke Gas Mines Sulphur Mines Labor Mining Southeast Asia Kawah Ijen Featured Co...

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Sulfur Mines at Kawah Ijen Indonesia 1
Kawah Ijen, Indonesia.
By Jeffrey Bright
19 Jan 2011

A miner weighs his load at the local mining office. Typical loads range from 60–100 kilograms. Miners will make this trip two or three times a day, with typical earnings of approximately €9 per day.

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Sulfur Mines at Kawah Ijen Indonesia 2
Kawah Ijen, Indonesia.
By Jeffrey Bright
19 Jan 2011

Miners carry baskets of sulfur up from the crater of the Ijen volcano complex outside Banyuwangi.

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Sulfur Mines at Kawah Ijen Indonesia 3
Kawah Ijen, Indonesia.
By Jeffrey Bright
19 Jan 2011

Many of the miners have no protective clothing. A few have basic masks, most rely on little more than a T-shirt gripped in their teeth.

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Sulfur Mines at Kawah Ijen Indonesia 4
Kawah Ijen, Indonesia.
By Jeffrey Bright
19 Jan 2011

Up to about 200 miners a day make a living here. They use metal rods to break off pieces of hardening yellow sulfur spilling out of pipes attached to the fumaroles.

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Sulfur Mines at Kawah Ijen Indonesia 5
Kawah Ijen, Indonesia.
By Jeffrey Bright
19 Jan 2011

Miners load the heavy rocks of sulphur into baskets and carry them up to the rim of the crater. Then they carry the baskets, weighing up to 90kg to a further 3 kilometers collection point.

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Sulfur Mines at Kawah Ijen Indonesia 13
Kawah Ijen, Indonesia.
By Jeffrey Bright
19 Jan 2011

The miners have a protective gear beyond a damp cloth to cover the nose and mouth. Gloves and gas masks are not affordable . Men are paid approx. €9 a day.

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Sulfur Mines at Kawah Ijen Indonesia 18
Kawah Ijen, Indonesia.
By Jeffrey Bright
19 Jan 2011

A miners breaks off pieces of sulfur with steel bars.It is a work that demands bravery since they are susceptible to extremely dangerous gases and liquids with minimal protection.

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Sulfur Mines at Kawah Ijen Indonesia 19
Kawah Ijen, Indonesia.
By Jeffrey Bright
19 Jan 2011

A miner lifts a large pieces of sulfur. Miners break the cooled sulfur and load up their wicker baskets to be carried out of the crater. Kawah Ijen, Indonesia.19/01/2011

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Sulfur Mines at Kawah Ijen Indonesia 23
Kawah Ijen, Indonesia.
By Jeffrey Bright
19 Jan 2011

Inside the crater of the the Ijen volcano in East Java. The Ijen volcano is filled with sulfuric acid and it rises to 2,800m with a crater of over 200 meters deep and nearly one kilometer wide.

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Sulfer Mines at Kawah Ijen Indonesia
Kawah Ijen, Indonesia.
By Jeffrey Bright
19 Jan 2011

Many of the miners have no protective clothing. Few have basic masks, however most rely on a little piece cloth to cover their mouth.

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Sulphur Mines at Kawah Ijen Indonesia
Kawah Ijen, Indonesia.
By Jeffrey Bright
19 Jan 2011

The poisonous clouds are hydrogen sulphide and sulphur dioxide gases so concentrated they burn the eyes and throat, and can eventually dissolve the miners' teeth.