Uploaded on Jul 5, 2008
Every day sulfur miners in Indonesia risk their health and their lives, just to survive. With limited job opportunities available, men turn to mining, which pays slightly more than farming. Here's more on the story.
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Mining is a brutal, labor intensive job, wherever you are, and whatever the substance.
Asia's biggest volcanic crater, Kawah Ijen in East Java, is home to a few hundred miners who risk their lives daily to hand-mine sulfur... all for about two and a half cents a pound.
Sounds like a pittance to many, but the money is more than the average pay in the vast Indonesian archipelago.
The enormous natural crater formed lake, where the sulfur is mined, is 220 yards deep and filled with steaming acid water, some 2,500 yards above sea level.
The miners walk miles to get to the mines at the top of the crater, wearing hardly any protection.
Some cough but they are paid by the weight and ignore the sulfurous smoke that turns their eyes red with water and blocks their noses making breathing a chore.
[Sukirman, Sulfur Miner]:
"The only job I can get is here. What can I do as there is no other choice?"
The experienced ones take up to 200 pounds in baskets straddled over their shoulder on each trip to the collection center, some 12 miles below. Some 10 tons of sulfur are mined daily and each miner earns an average of $6 a day.
[Arifin, Sulfur Miner]:
"They pay us cash and it is higher than any farming job here. A farmer can get $1.60 a day but here we can get $6.40 a day, depending on our strength."
Though the mining is back-breaking work and extended contact with sulphur dioxide could cause permanent lung damage, few of these miners will complain for fear of not being allowed to work on the crater.
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