Sulphur Mining at Kawah Ijen, 13/08/2010
In East Java, Indonesia lies Kawah Ijen volcano. It is 2,600 meters tall (8,660ft) and topped with a large caldera and a 200-metre-deep turquoise lake of sulphuric acid. The quietly active volcano emits gases through fumaroles inside the crater, and local miners have capped the gases with stone and ceramic pipes to earn a living. Inside the pipes, the sulphur gas condenses into a red liquid, which drips down and out and solidifies into pure slabs of yellow sulphur.
The miners hack chunks off with steel bars, braving extremely dangerous gases and liquids with minimal protection, and load baskets with as much as they can carry for the climb out of the crater and the several kilometers down to the weighing station. Loads can weigh from 45 to 90kg (100 – 200 lbs), and a single miner might make as many as two or three trips in a day. At the end of a long day, miners take home approximately Rp50,000 ($5.00 USD.). The sulphur is melted down in a workshop further down the volcano, the liquid spread out in the sun to harden into sheets, which are then broken into small bits, bagged and sent out to be used for vulcanizing rubber, bleaching sugar and other industrial processes.