Why the hell are they mining sulphur in a volcano?



Seems most bizarre. Sulphur is a by product of many industrial processes (oil refining for one, certain mining processes another) and there are parts of the world where if you ask nicely they will pay you to take it away.

8 thoughts on “Why the hell are they mining sulphur in a volcano?”

  1. The problem with supply in a market where the product is primarily a by product is the lack of price effect.

    In 2008, sulphur briefly hit 700-800 dollars a ton as demand from fertiliser producers rose rapidly, but supply didn’t change.

    I suspect that mining sulphur is sometime feasible and sometimes not depending on the very volatile price.

  2. Probably because the amount they earn at $.40/kg carrying nearly 100kg/day comes at a good wage for the region if going by various reports that the average per capita income was $1200/year in 2008.

  3. Annual world demand is about 70 million tons. So yes sulphur will have a price, even as a by product.

    The Indonesian operation seems quite sophisticated (for Indonesia). More than the mines in the Andes, anyway, and probably more than on Mt Etna a century or two ago.

  4. @BIF reckon its a proper mining company or just scavengers? Can’t see any extraction equipment in that photo.

    I noticed in the third world people will do lots of work for an amount you wouldn’t be bothered with in Europe. There’s an African dude round the corner from my house who spends all day smashing old faulty electric goods to get the copper out.

  5. Maka, they’ve got paved pathways and ceramic pipes to pipe the molten sulphur out.
    That’s more than the Italians had in 1850. Extracting sulphur was a matter of burning the impure surface ore so that the underlying sulphur would melt and be extractable. Very wasteful compared to this operation.

  6. @BIF ah didn’t see the other photos, thought it was one of those around the world in 20 pics shenanigans! Cheers amigo

  7. I’ve see photos of slabs of sulphur the size of football pitches and the height of a house, waste from oil extraction, in the “stans”.

    Tenghiz, Kazakhstan. The oil there is very sour, i.e. high concentrations of H2S, which they scrub out and produce sulphur.

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