Sulphur Mining

Elemental sulphur is found in regions of the world that either are, or have in the past, experienced volcanic activity, and has long been mined in these areas. This was, for example, one reason a settlement was developed on one of the Galapagos Islands as long ago as 1893. Deposits may be close to the surface, and be extracted by open cast mining, or may be deeper underground and are extracted by the Frasch Process.

In the Frasch Process, a hole is drilled into the sulphur deposit and three concentric, encased pipes are lowered into the sulphur. Water, super-heated to 150ºC, is pumped under pressure down the middle pipe. At this temperature the water is hot enough to melt the sulphur (melting point = 120ºC). Compressed air is passed down the inner pipe and this forces molten sulphur and steam up the outer pipe to the surface for collection.

















As the quantity of sulphur recovered from other sources like oil and gas has risen, sulphur mining has become less common.

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