From the Indonesian island of Bangka, miners like Hendra daily travel by boat to uninhabited wooden decks along the coast that provide access to corrugated iron ore.
Indonesia is the world’s largest exporter of tin used for everything from food packaging to electronics and now green technologies.
But the Bangka-Belitung minefields have been used extensively on land, leaving some island areas off the southeast coast of Sumatra as a lunar settlement with vast valleys and oceans.
The people turn to the sea.
“In the world, our income is dwindling. There is no longer a reservoir, “says Hendra, 51, who went to work in a naval mine about a year ago after 10 years in the industry.
“In the ocean, there are many storage areas.”
They usually live in groups of seawater, the pontoons emit black smoke from diesel generators that sound so loud that their co-workers talk to them.
Hendra, who uses the same name as most Indonesians, uses six or four pounds, each with three or four workers, with pipes that can be up to 20 meters (66 feet) sucking sand from the sea.
A mixture of water and sand is carried on a bed of plastic mats lined with shiny black sand with tin.
Hendra is one of many miners who work with PT Timah to take advantage of what the state-owned mining has approved.
Miners are paid around 70,000 to 80,000 rupees ($ 4.90 to $ 5.60) per kilogram of corrugated iron sand, and the pontoon produces about 50kg a day, Hendra said.
Timah has been promoting production from the sea. Information from the company shows that its steel was proven to be on the surface at 16,399 tons last year, compared to 265,913 tons at sea.
Significant growth, combined with reports of illegal miners, has fueled controversy with fishermen, who say their catch has fallen as a result of their fishing intervention since 2014.
Fisherman Apriadi Anwar said, in the past, his family had raised enough money to pay for his two younger brothers to go to university, but in recent years, he has only moved a little.
“Do not think about going to university, nowadays it is difficult to even buy food,” said Apriadi, 45, who lives in the village of Batu Perahu.
Apriadi said the nets could be combined with marine mining equipment as they walked under the sea to find rocky outcrops that have contaminated the ancient waters.
“The fish are declining because the rocks they are dying in now have mud from the mines,” he added.
The Indonesian environmental group Walhi has been working to stop mines at sea, especially on the west coast of Bangka, where well-preserved mangroves.