By Hannah Stevens @Hannahshewans

EXPERIENCE the daily reality of sulphur miners who hike into a treacherous volcano to earn a meagre living

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Three miners hack at chunks of sulphur as volcanic smoke billows around them

Workers at the Kawah Ijen volcano travel into its depths several times a day to haul up to 90 kilos of sulphur up to the surface.

Photographer Fabian Muir decided to visit the mines after seeing Michael Glawogger’s documentary entitled “Workingman’s Death,” which explored the extreme working conditions of low income workers around the globe.

Plumes of smoke waft out of the crater where many workers do not wear any protection gear

Muir said: “His portrayal of the sulphur miners particularly fascinated me. On many levels it had a sense of conditions that might have looked much the same 200 years ago and I found it shocking that people should be working like this in the ‘modern’ era.

Drums are spread throughout the crater to help with the sulphur extraction process

“Workingman’s Death was filmed in 2005 and I wanted to see if anything had changed a decade later — it hasn’t.”

The three kilometre hike into the volcano takes several hours in each direction, but for every full load - weighing between 70 and 90 kilos - workers will earn just €4.20-€5.40.

A miner fills up one of two sacks he will carry back up the crater in baskets

At the top of the remote volcano, a sign rests at the crater prohibiting people from descending into the crater but the photographer said there was not a soul in sight controlling access.

Conditions in the volcanic crater are harsh and workers struggle daily with the perilous climb in and out of the crater, as well as the constant stream of noxious volcanic gases engulfing them.

Two miners and a photographer start the epic journey back to the rim of the volcanic crater

Fabian said: “The smell of the sulphur is tolerable until one gets caught in the smoke. With the wind shifting around unpredictably it’s a question of when this will happen rather than if, and the fumes are very toxic.

“If they envelop you it’s literally impossible to breath and completely blinding. A few of the miners have primitive gas masks, but a great many work without any protection.

Noxious gases pour out of pipes dotted throughout the crater

“The overall topography combined with the tonalities of the site give it a distinctly otherworldly feel.”

Despite the brutality of their daily work, Fabian said the miners held themselves with impressive dignity and positivity.

The Sydney-based photographer added: “A great deal can also be learnt from the quiet dignity of the miners.

Baskets full of sulphur wait to be carried up and out of the crater

“None of them complained, none of them asked me for any kind of payment and many of them had ready smiles in conditions of extreme hardship.

“Unfortunately these images are unlikely to improve conditions on the ground, but at the very least, they might put many westerners’ supposed problems into a proper perspective.”