Anyone wanting to get Sulphur

Added: Rosalio Graver - Date: 18.11.2021 20:21 - Views: 31842 - Clicks: 2249

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Matches and white sugar are among the products made with sulphur hewn by hand from an active volcano in Indonesia. Is this one of the most dangerous jobs in the world? The traditional sulphur miners of East Java bear the scars of their labour - poisoned lungs and skin criss-crossed with burns and scars. Several hundred men work in the heart of Ijen volcano in East Java, Indonesia. Each day, they collect yellow lumps of sulphur that solidify beside its acidic crater lake.

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Once processed, the sulphur is used to bleach sugar, make matches and fertiliser, and vulcanise rubber in factories at home and abroad. Filmed for the BBC's Human Planetthe miners carry 90kg lo up metres out Anyone wanting to get Sulphur the crater and back down the volcano's outer slopes to a weighing station - a journey they make several times a day. The miners have little in the way of protective gear beyond a damp cloth to cover the nose and mouth. In the past 40 years, 74 miners have died after being overpowered by fumes that can suddenly swirl from fissures in the rock.

The poisonous clouds are not steam, but hydrogen sulphide and sulphur dioxide gases so concentrated they burn the eyes and throat, and can eventually dissolve the miners' teeth. During filming, the BBC crew was enveloped in a toxic cloud 40 times the UK's safe breathing level no limits exist for the miners. Corrosive air-borne particles ate into the cameras, which promptly broke down.

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It is a method of sulphur extraction that has all but died out, says volcanologist Clive Oppenheimer, of Cambridge University. Eruptions, and the advent of new processes, led to the closure of most mining operations. An active vent close to the lake shore is used for the sulphur mining operation.

The water in the crater - which is one of the world's largest - is acidic enough to dissolve clothes, eat through metal, and cause breathing problems.

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Pipes are driven into the fissures in the rock to extract sulphur from the bowels of the mountain. It is blood red when molten, and turns yellow as it cools and solidifies. The miners break the cooled sulphur into chunks, and load up their wicker baskets for the metre climb back up out of the crater. Each man carries up to twice his body weight from the crater to the weighing station part way down the mountain.

The work takes a toll on their bodies. But their bodies have, in turn, adapted.

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Many can hold their breath for extended periods, like the freediving Bajau fishermen of Malaysiaand some have hyper-developed shoulder muscles from years of lugging heavy baskets up and down the mountain, says BBC researcher Dina Mufti. They say working here can shorten your life," says Hartomo, 34, a sulphur miner for 12 years.

No other job pays this well," adds Sulaiman. Volcano clips and facts. Human Planet Explorer: Indonesia. Human Planet Explorer: Mountains. Around the BBC. Related Internet Links. Human Planet blog.

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Sulphur mining in an active volcano