After miners collected the sulphur at the crater lake of the Ijen volcano, it needs to be processed. The sulphur miners collect it and bring the sulphur to the weighing station, where it is further transported by a truck. During the purifying process sulphur in being purified. One can find this factory in the small village Licin just 15 kilometers from the weighing station.
Manual work in the sulphur factory for Rp. 110,000 per day
Although work in the factory is heavy as well, people prefer to produce sulphur in the factory instead of carrying it out of the volcano. 'I am closer to my family', is their explanation. But, work hours differ too. While miners travel to the crater at one o'clock in the morning, the factory opens around six. All production workers in the factory are 'old' miners. They work in 2 shifts of 11 people.
Laborers in the sulphur factory in Licin process about 25 ton of sulphur a day and get about Rp. 10,000 per 100 kilogram sulphur. The total amount has to be divided among all workers, 22 in total. That means that heavy physical work is rewarded with approximately € 9 per person per day. That is slightly more than an average sulphur miner earns.
From stove till bags of 50 kg sulphur each
In the factory the sulphur is being melt to purify it. The purified sulphur is collected at the end of the stove that looks like one long boiling pot. Although still extremely hot, one man with a very simple tool, throws the purified sulphur in a thin layer over a ceramic floor. The sulphur solidifies within five minutes. While still hot, the yellow stuff is first removed from the floor after which it is broken into small pieces with a metal tool. Two people shovel the small pieces into a bag up till a weight of 50 kilograms. Then the sulphur production is ready to be transported to the next processor in Banyuwangi.
Usage of sulphur
Sulphur is found in the earth's surface in volcanic areas or in hot springs, in sedimentary rocks, salt domes, and as secondary minerals in ore deposits, sulfatar, and fumaroles. In Indonesia sulphur is found in the Province of North Sumatra, West Java, Central Java, East Java, North Sulawesi, and the island of Damar (Maluku). In East Java sulphur is found in the crater of Mount Welirang, Mount Arjuno, and Mount Ijen in the form of gas.
Sulphur minerals used to make sulphuric acid (H2SO4), which is manufactured to for example fertilizer, paint materials, explosives, and textiles. Sulphuric acid is also applied in oil refinery, anti-insecticides, wood preservatives, paper mills, drugs, and the chemical industry.