Tags / Asia
The miners hack at chunks of sulphur with steel bars, braving extremely dangerous gases and liquids with minimal protection.
The miners break the cooled sulphur into chunks, and load up their wicker baskets for the 200 metre climb back up out of the crater.
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.
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
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.
Many of the miners have no protective clothing. Few have basic masks, however most rely on a little piece cloth to cover their mouth.
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
A miner tries to escape the toxic smoke at Kawah Ijen sulphur mines.
Miners pan for traces of gold from the top soil near one of the working tunnels. Illegal gold mine.
The U.N Minamata Convention on Mercury is scheduled to be adopted and opened for signature at a Conference of Plenipotentiaries (Diplomatic Conference) in Kumamoto and Minamata, Japan from 10 to 11 October 2013.
The booming price of gold in recent years has triggered a significant growth in small-scale mining where mercury is used to separate gold from the ore-bearing rock. Workers and their families involved in small-scale gold mining are exposed to mercury pollution in several ways including through inhalation during the smelting. Mercury is also being released into river systems from these small-scale operations where it can contaminate fish, the food chain and people downstream.
Although the use of mercury for small-scale gold mining is banned in Indonesia, it's difficult to enforce. And there's a hope that the forthcoming ratification of the U.N.'s convention will mean international assistance to help miners change the way they work. Today Indonesia ranks behind only China in the use of mercury in gold mining.
The tradition of mining gold started at least as early as the first millennium BC. Sought after since the beginning of recorded history, gold remains a highly valued metal, reaching record highs on September 2011, Gold prices peaked at $1,921 an ounce. Gold prices rose as investors worried about the potential for another U.S. recession. Recently the bank lifted its gold price outlook for 2013 to $1,446 per ounce from $1,396, and kept its 2014 forecast unchanged at $1,435 an ounce.
This rise in the price of and demand for gold has created a gold rush since the mid 2000 across Ghana, Brazil, Peru and Indonesia to name but a few.There are an estimated 10-15 million unregulated gold miners around the world, operating in 70 countries. Indonesia is one of the world’s largest informal producers of this precious metal.
Currently, Indonesia produces around four percent of global gold production. In Indonesia the government estimates there are 62,000 illegal miners across the country, twice the number working legally.
But it also seeks to recognize the rights of indigenous miners and calls on legal mining firms to provide more help to local communities. One of those local communities is Presanggaran as small town located just east of mount Tumpang Pitu in Banyuwangi, East Java, Indonesia.
The mine has been in operation since June 2009 and local villagers have begun protesting because the waste produced by the mine is polluting the environment.
The gold mine in Tumpang Pitu which is a nature conservation area has sparked controversy in connection with threats to wildlife around the protected forest. Also the contamination by ore and mercury is a menace to the life and productivity of the local community.
Audience members watching a match near Korgan-Teppe, Tajikistan, with the bikes they used to get to the buzkashi field from nearby farming villages.
Khurshed's brother, Suhrob, exercises his horses in the mountains near Dushanbe.
A modern yurt of concrete on a Mongolian ranch for 30RMB near Hulun Lake, Inner Mongolia, China. June 28, 2010.
A 25RMB room where a young Mongolian man threatened murder for hours that eventually lead to an unwanted sexual advance. Near Wulan Huadui, Inner Mongolia, China. June 26, 2010
A room for 45RMB along the Grand Canal where the odor of natural gas took over the room throughout the night. Jiangsu Province, China, May 18, 2010.
A traditional Chinese room in a family's home near the Grand Canal for 15RMB, Jiangsu, China. May 15, 2010.
Home of the traveler represents more than a temporary place of rest but a private space for daily reflection and personal exploration. It's a sanctuary where a wanderer allows the stress and worries that come with surviving unknown lands and among strange, yet extraordinary, cultures. A personal temple where the devotee of a path can meditate among their reticent thoughts and boundless emotions with revelations of personal growth, like that of a blooming lotus. The modest space of a nomad that is only decorated with essential possessions and esoteric tools for continuing and planning the migration onward. It's a room of respite that is essential to the personal evolution that occurs during a pilgrimage through the world and life.
This body of work, entitled “The Nomad's Chrysalis”, began in 2010 during a solo bicycle tour around Asia that spanned 2 years. I had begun documenting the rooms as a way to visually record my travel in hopes to draw upon that day's events and emotions. At the time, I was also beginning to develop my profession as an architecture and interior photographer. This compelled me to capture the interesting and unique spaces I lived in. As time passed, there was the realization that this imagery evoked strong and complex emotions while cuing buried memories. The quickly growing collection of spaces developed into an ongoing project that physically identifies my travel while providing a concept for viewers to examine and contemplate.
Revealing little about the personal thoughts and emotions of the artist, this allows an individual interpretation and reaction from the audience. The observer can question what the traveler may have been feeling and thinking: curious of the previous day's events and how the next was anticipated and to be prepared for.
Each room represents a vital stage in development of a travelers as chrysalis is to the world of insects. The room is a habitation where cleaning and recovery occurs while the slow and continuous transformation transpires. These rooms contained a nomad's physical presence and material possessions while also providing a place of solitude to safely discover and meticulously explore her psyche.
(Additional information can be granted per image, upon request.)
An 80RMB hostel room in Zhenjiang, Jiangsu, China. May 7, 2010.
Footage of the open market in Kabul, Afghanistan, in 2008.
Footage of street scenes in Kabul, Afghanistan, in 2008.
Footage showing street scenes of Kabul, Afghanistan, in 2008.