Protect Indonesian Sulfur Miners

Target: President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono

Goal: Provide sulfur miners in Indonesia with adequate safety equipment and protect them from exploitation

Miners across the world have always had to endure some of the most dangerous working conditions, but Indonesian sulfur miners stand out in particular. Indonesian sulfur miners risk their lives every day as they enter the mines with no protective gear whatsoever. The conditions they face are inhumane and workers who have been exposed to sulfur over long periods of time have a life expectancy of only 30 years. They essentially give their lives to the sulfur mines. Each day these workers traverse dangerous volcanos and mountain sides with no gas masks, proper boots, or any equipment. They do it not out of enjoyment or passion, but simply in order for their families to survive.

Indonesian sulfur miners are grossly exploited, putting in extreme physical labor for the equivalent of about $5 per day. What’s even more disturbing is that they are considered a tourist attraction. After 12-18 grueling hours of work, they take the bus back into town and tourists gather to snap pictures of their wounds and deformities. Since they carry several loads of approximately 175 pounds each day, they have giant knots and extreme bone deformities all over their backs. Their is also skin is worn, weathered, and burned. The miners ask for a small fee from tourists in exchange for their photos, but only some are granted their request.

We must call upon the Indonesian government to enact and enforce workers rights for sulfur miners. These miners desperately need adequate supplies, such as gas masks, gloves, boots, and pads. They also need a better method of transporting the sulfur; currently they attach two baskets to a stick and carry the impossibly heavy load on their backs, which creates terrible deformities. In addition, we must demand that these people receive better pay, as this level of exploitation is inhumane and appalling.


Dear President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono,

We are calling on you to protect the sulfur miners in your country and provide them with adequate safety equipment. Each day these workers risk their lives, traversing treacherous volcanos and mountainsides with virtually no protective gear. Most sulfur miners have a life expectancy of about 30 years due to long-term exposure to toxic gases. Sulfur miners carry several loads each day of over 175 pounds each, causing extreme bone and muscle deformities. Their skin is worn, weathered, and burned. Yet they continue to enter the mines each day in order to provide for their families.

No worker should have to expose themselves to such terrible conditions, risking their lives and physical heath in order to survive. As President, I am asking you to put safety parameters in place for sulfur miners. In order to make this effective, you must ensure that sulfur mining companies provide proper safety gear such as gas masks, goggles, boots, and protective padding. The miners also need a better way to carry the heavy sulfur rocks, as currently they use two baskets tied to a stick and carry each load upon their backs, which causes extreme bodily deformities. Lastly, you must put an end to the gross exploitation of these workers. Currently they earn approximately 900 rupiah (0.9 US cents) per kilogram of sulfur, which is far too little considering the enormous risk of their job. Please protect Indonesian sulfur miners by providing protective gear and putting a stop to this inhumane level of exploitation.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Jesse Estes via Flickr

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  1. Marco Geilenkirchen says:

    Are these miners convicts? Even then the mining company should install at least a conveyor-belt transporting system, or something like a ski-lift-type of transporting system for the buckets with the sulphur: that wouldn’t only increase productivity but also decrease the torture of the miners.

  2. @Marco no these miners are not convicts. They are deeply impoverished and work the sulfur mines in order to survive. As a result of the extreme poverty they live within they are horribly exploited, as they do not have the means to have another option,

  3. Is there any organization accepting funds to purchase masks for the miners? Are the miners open to gloves and masks if they are available?

  4. Flora Cabean says:

    Please provide fair wages and safety equipment for sulfur miners

  5. This is so outrageous–who is this mining company? These miners DESERVE higher compensation and SAFETY EQUIPMENT.

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