As the ice carving at the Harbin Ice and Snow World started, a group of ‘ice miners’ started the work on the icy Songhua River.
They are farmers from nearby cities of Harbin, ‘mining’ ice for the ice and snow festival during the slack season.
They get up at 3 a.m. in the morning and travel tens of kilometers to reach the river every day. They have their lunch on and drink water directly from the river.
‘Ice mining’ is seemingly simple, but it is actually very demanding work. By using a fretsaw, ice miners first cut ice into cuboids, each of which is 1.6 meters long and 0.8 meter wide, and weighs over 500 kilograms.
Workers like Hu Jiansheng from Zhaodong, Heilongjiang Province, who have been in business for 10 years, earn CNY200-300 (USD29-43) a day for a month-long work. There are more than 100 ice miners working on the river in the peak period.
Ice miners use mallets and braziers to separate the ice blocks, and metal hooks to pull them up from the water and then use forklifts to carry them away.
Ice blocks are shoveled away by a forklift.