While we were in the Ijen Crater we came into contact with one of the most brutal forms of employment we have seen – The Sulphur Miners of Ijen.
The Ijen Crater is one big sulphur mine. Over 300 miners work here. Between the hours of 2am and 4am they descend into the very bowels of Hell to extract the Sulphite from the rocks by hand. They don’t wear any protective clothing, masks or goggles to protect them from the noxious sulphuric gas.
But that is the relatively easy part. The next task is to carry 60-80kg of Sulphite up the crater and down the mountain in sacks on their backs – a 6 hour journey.
These men are paid a pittance for the Sulphur they mine. The work conditions are an absolute joke but for years this is what they have done and continue to do on a daily basis.
These brave souls have appeared on the BBC’s Human Planet series in a feature about the world’s toughest jobs under the title of ‘Ghost Miners’. They were also one of the subjects in the documentary ‘Workingman’s Death’ by Michael Glowogger.
One of the Miners was kind enough to pose for a photo with Karen, for photo money of course. Considering their wages and bravery Karen was only too happy to pay – an unusual event!