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Is Sulfur Still Mined Today?

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Sulphur Mining in Active Volcanos of Indonesia
Yes!

Believe it or not, still Indonesian miners in East Java risk their lives to mine sulfur!

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Though, today, sulfur is the byproduct of oil and gas refining, still it is mined, which increases the risk of respiratory illness and physical injuries in miners.

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The physical toll of traditional sulfur mining: burned and scarred skin, poisoned lungs, and lingering effects on miners’ Health!

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The traditional sulfur miners of East Java face a physically demanding and grueling work routine.

These miners carry a staggering weight of 90 kilograms on their backs as they make their way up 200 meters out of the crater, only to make the journey back down the volcano’s outer slopes to a weighing station.

This process, which involves carrying the load multiple times a day, is an arduous task that tests the limits of their endurance and strength.

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Sulphur Mining in Active Volcanos

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Despite the difficult working conditions and the inherent risks involved in the job, the miners persist in their laborious occupation, driven by the need to provide for their families and make a living in a challenging economic environment.

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Sulphur Mining

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Exposed to Toxic Clouds, Lives in Danger!

The dense cloud of toxic gas, measuring at levels 40 times higher than the recommended safe breathing level in the UK is common in these mines!

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This incident highlights the severe health and environmental risks posed by traditional sulfur mining practices and underscores the need for improved safety measures and protective equipment to safeguard the health and wellbeing of the miners and others who may be exposed to the dangerous sulfur gas.

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Sulphur Mining in  Indonesia

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According to Clive Oppenheimer, a volcanologist from Cambridge University, the method of sulfur extraction that was once commonly used has largely become obsolete.

He notes that until the late 19th century, there were numerous sulfur mines in volcanic regions such as Italy, New Zealand, Chile, and Indonesia.

However, today, this practice has all but disappeared, and traditional sulfur mining is only carried out by a small number of people in certain parts of the world.

Dr. Oppenheimer points out that while traditional sulfur mining may have largely become obsolete, there are still mechanized volcanic sulfur mines in the Andes region.

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Sulphur Mining in  Indonesia

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Unlike the laborious and hazardous methods employed by traditional sulfur miners, these mechanized mines use modern technology and equipment to extract sulfur from the volcanic deposits.

See also  Sulphur or Sulfur?!

This approach offers a safer and more efficient means of sulfur extraction, reducing the risks to human health and the environment.

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sulfur mining

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The High Cost of Safety for Indonesian Sulfur Miners!

It is upsetting to say that the Indonesian miners work with no or limited protective facility!

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Despite the hazardous nature of their work, the traditional sulfur miners in East Java lack adequate protective equipment to shield themselves from the harmful effects of the toxic sulfur gas.

In fact, they have only a damp cloth to cover their noses and mouths, leaving their skin and eyes vulnerable to exposure.

Protective gloves and gas masks, which could significantly reduce the risks associated with sulfur mining, are not a viable option for these miners due to their high cost, which is beyond their meager daily earnings of $10 to $15.

As a result, the miners are forced to endure the noxious fumes and toxic elements of sulfur mining with limited protection, exposing themselves to a range of health hazards that can cause long-term harm to their lungs, skin, and overall well-being.

Despite the challenges they face, these miners continue to risk their health and safety to earn a living and provide for their families in a difficult economic environment.

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Highly Acidic Water of Crater!

The crater surrounding the lake, which is considered one of the largest in the world, contains water that is highly acidic.

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This acidic water has the potential to dissolve clothing, corrode metals, and cause breathing difficulties in those who are exposed to it.

Given the severity of these hazards, it is essential that proper safety measures and protective equipment are employed to minimize the risks to workers and to mitigate the potential environmental impact of the mining activities.

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sulfur

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The Physical Injuries Faced by Miners

After the sulfur has been extracted from the volcanic deposits, the miners proceed to break it down into manageable chunks.

These chunks are then loaded into wicker baskets, which the miners carry with them as they make the arduous climb out of the crater.

Each miner is expected to carry a load that is up to twice his body weight from the crater to the weighing station located partway down the mountain!

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sulfur mining in Indonesia

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This backbreaking task is a routine part of the job for the traditional sulfur miners and underscores the physical demands and hazards associated with this industry.

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