Kawah Ijen in East Java is one of the many volcanoes that dominate the landscape of this island of the Indonesian archipelago. But Ijen is markedly different from the others – it houses the largest acidic crater lake on planet earth. The beautiful lake is the site of rich elemental sulphur which still gets quarried manually by 350-400 miners. In an age when sulphur is a by product of oil refining and other industries and extracted mechanically elsewhere, Kawah Ijen remains the only site of labour-intensive sulphur mining operation in the world, where miners hammer out a living amid the toxic sulphur fumes that expose them to a high risk of lung diseases.

Twice a day, they make a trip from the rim of the crater down to the lake and carry back 70-90 kgs. of sulphur on bamboo baskets up an almost perpendicular path and down to the roadhead some 5 kms. from the lake. The payout for this double trip which many would consider as one of world’s toughest jobs, is about 12 USD.

Working day in and day out amid the noxious fumes of hydrogen sulphide and sulphur dioxide (most of them work with little or no protective gear) leaves the miners with . In the last four decades, about six dozen miners have died in the crater due to a sudden release of poisonous gases from the crater.
Kawah Ijen houses the largest acidic lake on Earth, a 1 km long crater lake rich in sulphur.Miners carry heavy loads of sulphur weighing over 80 kg up a steep pathMiners work in  a toxic environment laden with sulphur dioxide and hydrogen sulphideA miner with sulfur laden baskets. The other descends into the fumes for his share.The bizarrely beautiful landscape of the yellow sulphur terrain inside the mines.Volcanic gases channelized through network of ceramic pipes come out as molten sulphur.A miner runs with a block of sulphur to fill his basketThree miners arrange their loads beside the crater lake before going up the crater pathA miner on his way with his booty. They use headlamps in the early hours of the day.A miner weighs the sulfur at the weighing station. This is  a  resting place for the miners.A miner loads his haul onto the truck to be taken down to a nearby sulphur factory.Handmade clay ovens and are being used to melt the sulphur chunks into liquid sulphurThe sulphur crystals are broken into pieces before transportation for commercial use

Categories & Keywords
Category:Travel and Places
Subcategory Detail:Indonesia
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