- Miners harvest sulfur in the crater lake of Ijen volcano in East Java, Indonesia
In East Java, Indonesia, the active Ijen Volcano is located where miners harvest a dangerous substance – sulfur.
In the middle of the volcano, in its crater, is a turquoise-colored acidic crater lake. The lake is the location of a labor-intensive sulfur mining operation where miners do back-breaking work.
(photo credit: jalbum.net)
Aside from the extremely acidic lake, the volcano is also covered with a thick cloud of smoke made from sulfur gasses that burn when you breathe.
Workers carry big heavy baskets with harvested sulfur – about 70-90 kgs – on both shoulders as they hike the steep Ijen mountain from the base of its crater and bring the sulfur outside.
(photo credit: boston.com)
Piles of raw pale yellow sulfur reach nearly the shoulder-height of these workers. The sulfur ore is melted down to a liquid form, filtered and purified. The product will then be spread all over the floor to allow it to cool down. Meanwhile, another worker will break them into powder and shovel it away.
The result will mainly be used to purify sugar, make salt, skin treatments, and even explosives.
Volcano miners are said to sell their sulfur harvest for 12 dollars a day to a factory where the baskets are being weighed. It is a well-compensated job considering the cost of living in the area. But needless to say, it is very onerous. Not to mention the risk these miners are facing.
(photo credit: news.com.au)
Reports revealed that the workers in the Ijen sulfur mining operation often receive insufficient labor protection while working around the active volcano. As a result of their tedious work, most of them suffer from respiratory illnesses. The smoke from the lake burns the lungs when breathed in.
The lake in the crater of Ijen Volcano is recognized as the most acidic crater lake in the world. Undoubtedly, this is a job by some of the toughest men in the world.