Sciencemadness Discussion Board » Fundamentals » Miscellaneous » Sulfur mining in Indonesia Select A Forum Fundamentals   » Chemistry in General   » Organic Chemistry   » Reagents and Apparatus Acquisition   » Beginnings   » Responsible Practices   » Miscellaneous   » The Wiki Special topics   » Technochemistry   » Energetic Materials   » Biochemistry   » Radiochemistry   » Computational Models and Techniques   » Prepublication Non-chemistry   » Forum Matters   » Legal and Societal Issues

Pages:  1
Author: Subject: Sulfur mining in Indonesia
Mabus
Wiki Master

Posts: 234
Registered: 3-11-2013
Member Is Offline

Mood: Energetic

Sulfur mining in Indonesia

http://edition.cnn.com/2016/07/07/asia/indonesia-volcano-ije...

Those are some pretty huge chunks of sulfur.
I wonder how pure is the solidified sulfur they make, given their crude machinery.

careysub
International Hazard

Posts: 1339
Registered: 4-8-2014
Location: Coastal Sage Scrub Biome
Member Is Offline

Mood: Lowest quantum state

 Quote: Originally posted by Mabus http://edition.cnn.com/2016/07/07/asia/indonesia-volcano-ije... Those are some pretty huge chunks of sulfur. I wonder how pure is the solidified sulfur they make, given their crude machinery.

They aren't "making" sulfur, or even using any machinery, they are mining it (i.e. collecting it) by hand.

The raw sulfur would be purified the usual way by the mining company that buys it - by distillation (probably double distillation). This makes pretty pure sulfur, the usual sulfur of commerce.

[Edited on 15-7-2016 by careysub]
NEMO-Chemistry
International Hazard

Posts: 1559
Registered: 29-5-2016
Location: UK
Member Is Offline

Mood: No Mood

That is a seriously hard way to make a living!
ELRIC
Hazard to Others

Posts: 239
Registered: 23-2-2015
Location: Kentucky
Member Is Offline

Mood: No Mood

This is a thought that's been on my mind for some time. Sulfur mines that is.

There's an old sulfur mine about 20-30 miles down the road from me. I've been

wondering if it would be worth a visit, or even what type of mining methods they

used. Ill be the first to admit, I haven't done much research on it myself. There's

several other different types of mines in the area too, that are abandoned.

Sulfur, though, to me, would be worth looking into
Mabus
Wiki Master

Posts: 234
Registered: 3-11-2013
Member Is Offline

Mood: Energetic

Quote: Originally posted by careysub
 Quote: Originally posted by Mabus http://edition.cnn.com/2016/07/07/asia/indonesia-volcano-ije... Those are some pretty huge chunks of sulfur. I wonder how pure is the solidified sulfur they make, given their crude machinery.

They aren't "making" sulfur, or even using any machinery, they are mining it (i.e. collecting it) by hand.

The raw sulfur would be purified the usual way by the mining company that buys it - by distillation (probably double distillation). This makes pretty pure sulfur, the usual sulfur of commerce.

[Edited on 15-7-2016 by careysub]

I meant the people melting the raw sulfur at the jungle factory, not the miners. Those who melt the raw sulfur and filter it to remove the rocks and then sell it further.

careysub
International Hazard

Posts: 1339
Registered: 4-8-2014
Location: Coastal Sage Scrub Biome
Member Is Offline

Mood: Lowest quantum state

Quote: Originally posted by Mabus
Quote: Originally posted by careysub
 Quote: Originally posted by Mabus http://edition.cnn.com/2016/07/07/asia/indonesia-volcano-ije... Those are some pretty huge chunks of sulfur. I wonder how pure is the solidified sulfur they make, given their crude machinery.

They aren't "making" sulfur, or even using any machinery, they are mining it (i.e. collecting it) by hand.

The raw sulfur would be purified the usual way by the mining company that buys it - by distillation (probably double distillation). This makes pretty pure sulfur, the usual sulfur of commerce.

[Edited on 15-7-2016 by careysub]

I meant the people melting the raw sulfur at the jungle factory, not the miners. Those who melt the raw sulfur and filter it to remove the rocks and then sell it further.

Oh, I see.

I got down as far as:
"An executive with the sulfur mining company PT Candi Ngrimbi says..." and stopped there. I was assuming that a "sulfur mining company" was going to use the usual methods to prepare the sulfur for commerce, since these are straightforward. I did not see the "factory in the jungle" part.

Without even one distillation it is not going to be very pure, of even sand and dirt free.
Morgan
International Hazard

Posts: 1523
Registered: 28-12-2010
Member Is Offline

Mood: No Mood

Some photos of the purified sheets of sulfur that have hardened.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/volcano-blue-fire-sulfur...

I liked the tortoise and rabbit made of sulfur sold to tourists. Clever marketing strategy. I wonder if they coat them with something or use an additive? Maybe a sulfur-crested cockatoo figurine would be nice. ha
And this ...
"Southeast Asia, Indonesia, East Java. Kawah Ijen Sulphur Mines. Sulphur factory where sulphur is purified and packed, located in the jungle next to the village of Taman Sari, some 15 km down from the sulphur mines of Kawah Ijen. Worker pours filtered red molten sulphur on the ceramic floor." 08/2011. © 2011 Vova Pomortzeff / Agentur Focus
sulphur_mines_87.jpg
http://www.pomortzeff.com/photos/story/2011/sulphur/ijen_min...
http://www.pomortzeff.com/photos/story/2011/sulphur/ijen_fac...
http://agentur-focus.de/Lightboxen/ANGEBOTE/FEATURES/2014/Wi...

[Edited on 16-7-2016 by Morgan]
phlogiston
International Hazard

Posts: 1341
Registered: 26-4-2008
Location: Neon Thorium Erbium Lanthanum Neodymium Sulphur
Member Is Offline

Mood: pyrophoric

I have a jar sitting here on my desk with sulfur that I collected from another Indonesian volcano (Gunung Bromo).
My sister vomited when we were standing on the rim of the crater and a cloud of fumes was blown our way. It was obviously an extremely unhealthy environment and I feel sorry for the men and woman that have no other choice but to work in these conditions to feed their family.

-----
"If a rocket goes up, who cares where it comes down, that's not my concern said Wernher von Braun" - Tom Lehrer
ficolas
Hazard to Others

Posts: 146
Registered: 14-5-2016
Member Is Offline

Mood: No Mood

They give the workers dust masks to protect against the gases, nice.
Morgan
International Hazard

Posts: 1523
Registered: 28-12-2010
Member Is Offline

Mood: No Mood

I guess mining sulfur this way is sadly but one of many barbaric dirty jobs that still exist in the evolving world today.
Looking at some other molded sulfur shapes that the people sell to eke out a living, these lighter colored shapes appear to be press molded from powdered sulfur but I don't know, as opposed to this turtle and rabbit which are said to be poured from molten sulfur. I guess too if you compressed or stamped powdered S hard enough and/or fast enough it would melt, like the plastic pellets used in a screw feed mechanism. Or maybe they are sintering a compressed sulfur powder shape.
http://agentur-focus.de/Lightboxen/ANGEBOTE/FEATURES/2014/Wi...
http://www.pomortzeff.com/photos/story/2011/sulphur/ijen_sto...
http://www.bcmtouring.com/forums/attachments/bcmt-dsc_8658-j...
UC235
International Hazard

Posts: 540
Registered: 28-12-2014
Member Is Offline

Mood: No Mood

Curiously, this process still continues while petrochemical sulfur piles up because there's no buyers. http://cen.chempics.org/post/116679929484/sulfur-mountain-ca...

My high school chemistry teacher used to have a photo of one of the old men hauling chunks of sulfur and was fond of saying, "Anytime you think your life is difficult, realize that you could be mining sulfur for a living."
careysub
International Hazard

Posts: 1339
Registered: 4-8-2014
Location: Coastal Sage Scrub Biome
Member Is Offline

Mood: Lowest quantum state

 Quote: Originally posted by UC235 Curiously, this process still continues while petrochemical sulfur piles up because there's no buyers. http://cen.chempics.org/post/116679929484/sulfur-mountain-ca...

That one pile has about 6 million (metric) tons of sulfur in it. The entire world market is around 80 million tons annually.

Apparently this sulfur surplus is a new thing, emerging just last year, but expected to continue for the next decade at least:
http://www.optimin.co.za/assets/documents/Sulphur-Market-Out...

http://www.argusmedia.com/fertilizer/world-sulphur-outlook-t...

[Edited on 17-7-2016 by careysub]
Oscilllator
International Hazard

Posts: 659
Registered: 8-10-2012
Location: The aqueous layer
Member Is Offline

Mood: No Mood

I've actually been to Ijen, one of the volcanoes where they mine sulfur. It was pretty cool. When I was there many people tried to sell me a sulfur tortoise, but I declined.
There was one guy there who made a cool sulfur pile by pouring molten sulfur straight onto his hand! It was held underwater at the time, but it was still pretty awesome. Attached is a picture of the guy and his pile of sulfur, as well as some other pics.

Morgan
International Hazard

Posts: 1523
Registered: 28-12-2010
Member Is Offline

Mood: No Mood

 Quote: Originally posted by UC235 Curiously, this process still continues while petrochemical sulfur piles up because there's no buyers. http://cen.chempics.org/post/116679929484/sulfur-mountain-ca... My high school chemistry teacher used to have a photo of one of the old men hauling chunks of sulfur and was fond of saying, "Anytime you think your life is difficult, realize that you could be mining sulfur for a living."

This large mound of sulfur became dangerous.
"When a 30-foot mound of sulfur fell in a yellow avalanche and engulfed Joe Lammlein as he was working in a front-end loader Friday, his own brother tried to dig him out. Three responding deputies and other workers also dug, desperate to save the 45-year-old worker trapped in a sulfur pit at Port Tampa Bay. But they couldn't help him. Lammlein died trapped inside the buried front loader at Port Redwing off Wyandotte Road. It took about four hours for rescuers to recover his body, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. On Friday evening, Lamm­lein's family was in mourning."
http://www.sulphuric-acid.com/techmanual/Plant_Safety/Sulphu...
http://www.sulphuric-acid.com/techmanual/Plant_Safety/Sulphu...
http://www.sulphuric-acid.com/techmanual/Plant_Safety/safety...
Metacelsus
International Hazard

Posts: 2476
Registered: 26-12-2012
Location: Boston, MA
Member Is Offline

Mood: Double, double, toil and trouble

So, why do they mine sulfur in Indonesia if there's a huge global surplus? Are transportation costs really more expensive than the mining costs? (I guess the very low wages of the workers keeps mining costs low.)

As below, so above.
mr.crow
International Hazard

Posts: 884
Registered: 9-9-2009
Member Is Offline

Mood: 0xFF

 Quote: Originally posted by UC235 My high school chemistry teacher used to have a photo of one of the old men hauling chunks of sulfur and was fond of saying, "Anytime you think your life is difficult, realize that you could be mining sulfur for a living."

That was my reaction after seeing the Indonesian sulfur mines in National Geographic or something

I've seen huge yellow piles of sulfur out West in Canada from highway 1. There is even one in the port in Vancouver

I suspect it comes from the Hydrodesulfurization process.

Of course the Canadian oil and gas industry is completely fucked in the ass now so maybe the piles of sulfur will disappear

Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and caldron bubble
careysub
International Hazard

Posts: 1339
Registered: 4-8-2014
Location: Coastal Sage Scrub Biome
Member Is Offline

Mood: Lowest quantum state

 Quote: Originally posted by Metacelsus So, why do they mine sulfur in Indonesia if there's a huge global surplus? Are transportation costs really more expensive than the mining costs? (I guess the very low wages of the workers keeps mining costs low.)

What are the costs to the mining company? For sulfur delivered to them, the only cost is what they pay the miners. This is paid in local currency, possibly even 'company script' in whole or part. Then it is simply the cost to do what little purification they can get away with.

Sulfur from overseas must be paid for in hard currency.

Also notice that their market is very small. They aren't moving a lot of sulfur. So they have no real purchasing power to get good prices on Chinese sulfur.

On Alibaba the best price I see sulfur is about $1.50 kg, with a minimum order of 20 tonnes. Shipping for this amount from Dalian to Jakarta by container isn't much,$300 or so, but then it must be shipped to the local market.

The poverty line in Indonesia (according to the government) is \$28 per capita per month. If a miner can bring in 1000 kg of sulfur a month and has a household of 4, then you could probably get away with paying them 20 cents a kilogram or even less. So yeah, this is cheaper than buying foreign sulfur.

j_sum1

Posts: 5522
Registered: 4-10-2014
Location: Oz
Member Is Offline

Mood: Taking opportunities to breathe.

Another example of sulfur mining on an active volcano.
http://www.photovolcanica.com/VolcanoInfo/White%20Island/Whi...

10 workers were killed in 1914 and production ceased.
It reopened a few years later but was again halted for economic reasons.

Morgan
International Hazard

Posts: 1523
Registered: 28-12-2010
Member Is Offline

Mood: No Mood

It's interesting to think what the surface of Io would look like up close and that there's a fair amount of sulfur there.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sulfur#/media/File:Io_highest_...
Oscilllator
International Hazard

Posts: 659
Registered: 8-10-2012
Location: The aqueous layer
Member Is Offline

Mood: No Mood

When I was there I was told most of the sulfur would be used in medicine. That explains why it could be sold for a higher price, as the stuff can be sold as "natural" I guess.
j_sum1

Posts: 5522
Registered: 4-10-2014
Location: Oz
Member Is Offline

Mood: Taking opportunities to breathe.

 Quote: Originally posted by Morgan It's interesting to think what the surface of Io would look like up close and that there's a fair amount of sulfur there.

 Quote: Originally posted by Oscilllator When I was there I was told most of the sulfur would be used in medicine.

You went to Io?
Coooool!!

[Edited on 19-7-2016 by j_sum1]

careysub
International Hazard

Posts: 1339
Registered: 4-8-2014
Location: Coastal Sage Scrub Biome
Member Is Offline

Mood: Lowest quantum state

Quote: Originally posted by j_sum1
 Quote: Originally posted by Morgan It's interesting to think what the surface of Io would look like up close and that there's a fair amount of sulfur there.

 Quote: Originally posted by Oscilllator When I was there I was told most of the sulfur would be used in medicine.

You went to Io?
Coooool!!

[Edited on 19-7-2016 by j_sum1]

He has inadvertently revealed his alien nature.
Morgan
International Hazard

Posts: 1523
Registered: 28-12-2010
Member Is Offline

Mood: No Mood

Quote: Originally posted by careysub
Quote: Originally posted by j_sum1
 Quote: Originally posted by Morgan It's interesting to think what the surface of Io would look like up close and that there's a fair amount of sulfur there.

 Quote: Originally posted by Oscilllator When I was there I was told most of the sulfur would be used in medicine.

You went to Io?
Coooool!!

[Edited on 19-7-2016 by j_sum1]

He has inadvertently revealed his alien nature.

Interest in a sulfur forum and now this just makes it more incriminating.

Jupiter’s moons are pumped or "oscillated" by tidal forces as they orbit - See more at: http://www.astrobio.net/topic/solar-system/jupiter/jupiter-s...
argyrium
Hazard to Others

Posts: 123
Registered: 3-2-2008
Location: Pacific
Member Is Offline

Mood: No Mood

We have lots of SO2 in the air here - even on Oahu at times. Can get pretty bad.

http://weather.hawaii.edu/vmap/hysplit/hawso2_gif.cgi
Morgan
International Hazard

Posts: 1523
Registered: 28-12-2010
Member Is Offline

Mood: No Mood

 Quote: Originally posted by argyrium We have lots of SO2 in the air here - even on Oahu at times. Can get pretty bad. http://weather.hawaii.edu/vmap/hysplit/hawso2_gif.cgi