Photographer: Dimas Ardian/Bloomberg

The Tin Mines of Bangka Island

The Indonesian islands of Bangka and Belitung produce over 90 percent of the country's tin. President Joko Widodo has vowed to end illegal mining operations that put the lives of men and children in danger. Here's a closer look at the tin mines of Bangka Island. Photographs by Dimas Ardian for Bloomberg

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    The trail begins on two islands off the coast of Sumatra in a sea channel that connects Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta, to Singapore and Malaysia. These islands, called Bangka and Belitung, produce more than 90 percent of the tin in Indonesia, which is the world’s biggest exporter of the metal.

    Photographer: Dimas Ardian/Bloomberg
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    Workers near the village of Sungai Liat. They are among hundreds of illegal tin miners on the island.

    Photographer: Dimas Ardian/Bloomberg
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    The mining is the first link in a chain of trucks, smelters and fishing boats that smuggles the metal out of the country.

    Photographer: Dimas Ardian/Bloomberg
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    Workers operate a wooden raft to dredge for tin ore in a mining pit.

    Photographer: Dimas Ardian/Bloomberg
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    Backed by a complex web of corruption and international payments, the dark sediment is transformed into the solder that ultimately ends up binding the electronics in everything from smartphones to cars.

    Photographer: Dimas Ardian/Bloomberg
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    Pits abandoned by mining companies such as PT Timah and more marginal deposits are worked illegally by men and children using diesel-powered equipment on floating platforms off remote stretches of coast, or with high-pressure hoses on land.

    Photographer: Dimas Ardian/Bloomberg
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    Unlicensed and unregulated, the work is dangerous and deaths from collapsed mines are common.

    Photographer: Dimas Ardian/Bloomberg
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    The illegal operators attracted the attention of President Joko Widodo, who vowed to put an end to the practice days after visiting Bangka on June 21.

    Photographer: Dimas Ardian/Bloomberg
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    “Tin prices have been low because of an oversupply, partly as a result of an increase in illegal tin exports from Bangka Belitung,” the president, known as Jokowi, said on June 25. Bangka’s governor and the province’s tin smelters must work together to manage the mining, he said.

    Photographer: Dimas Ardian/Bloomberg