Mining For Devil’s Gold
(Mt Ijen, Indonesia)
In the volcanic mountain, Kawah Ijen on the Island of Java in Indonesia, toxic smoke billows to the surface through tentacle like tunnels. With it a golden treasure is escorted into the light from the depths of the burning Hell Fires – pure sulphur or Devil's gold as the locals call it. This is what the miners are mining, laboring deep in the belly of Mt Ijen, collecting this yellow mineral with their bare hands and crude tools. The toxic smoke emitted from these pipes appears to be alive, invading pockets of fresh air where the miners are working, making breathing difficult. Most of the workers only have rags to cover their noses and mouths. The orange sulphur sometimes drips like melted candy from the man-made outlets. Miners break the collected sulphur up in smaller pieces into their reed baskets for transportation. Carrying about 70 kg on their shoulders with no padding, they make the steep ascent back out of the crater at an elevation gain of 800 meters. Making two trips a day in 10 hours earns them a daily wage of $12.00 US which is considered very high in this region.