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Olof Jarlbro


Olof Jarlbro was born in 1978 in the town of Helsingborg, in the south of Sweden. At the age of 19, Olof served his compulsory military service as a Ranger in the most northern part of Sweden, Lapland. 

Olof Jarlbro Photography produces visual stories for magazines, dailies and online news portals around the globe. However, its core focus is the production of books together with exhibitions and lectures that evoke awareness of various global and social issues.

Olof Jarlbro
Olof Jarlbro

The dirty business


In the photographer Jarlbro's documentary ‘The dirty business of gold’, he shows the everyday life of gold workers in the Philippines. The unique approach of so-called compressor mining, looking for gold using a hose and an air compressor, originates from this region in the Philippines as far back as the mid-1990s. It started with fishermen who saw an opportunity to dive deeper and further to be able to catch fish. However, following a tragic accident in 2012, in which three gold workers died after their air compressor broke down, it has since been forbidden to look for gold using an air compressor. However, this appears to have had very little effect, as this technology can still be found across many of the gold workers’ bamboo huts and rafts. Narrow tunnels often risk collapsing, and the diver can be buried alive. In addition to the risky tunnel collapse, the divers can also be fatally exposed if the air compressor stops working and the divers do not find out quickly enough. Compressor mining also entails direct health risks for the individual worker. The diesel generator is located next to the air compressor, meaning that diesel gases and carbon monoxide are mixed with other pollutants in the plastic hose that supplies air to the diver.

The Sulfur Cloud


In the sulfur cloud, photographer Jarlbro has documented workers at the Kawah Ijen sulfur mine in Indonesia. The mine, which opened in 1968, is still the only manually operated sulfur mine in the world today. Locals refer to it as "the world's devilish job" owing to the early death of many workers, often before they have even reached the age of 40. The mined sulfur is used to bleach sugar, make matches, soap, and fertilizers, in addition to vulcanized rubber used for local as well as international factories. Sulfur vapor is channeled through ceramic pipes that condense almost immediately to liquid sulfur, this drips out and solidifies into lumps of sulfur, which the miners chop off. The toxic gases around the crater comprise concentrated sulfur dioxide and hydrogen sulfide gases that measure 40 times higher than the acceptable safety exposure limits for human life. Constant cough attacks, followed by runny noses and eyes are commonplace for those who work in the crater. Continuous exposure can also cause irreparable damage to both the lungs and the reproductive system, as well as a gradual dissolving of the teeth. Many of the workers lack vital protective equipment such as gas masks and instead rely on a piece of cloth in their mouths.

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