land mines

Handheld device speeds up landmine detection and removal

Image credit: Dreamstime

New landmine detection technology, developed by Australia’s national science agency CSIRO, could soon help landmine-affected countries with their demining efforts.

It is estimated that over 100 million landmines remain deployed in more than 60 countries due to either previous or ongoing conflicts, causing around 6,500 casualties each year.

The new technology uses hand-held detectors that more quickly, accurately, and cost-effectively detect landmines for clearing.

“Science-driven innovation is solving our greatest challenges – from growing our economy by creating new industries and reinventing old ones, through to tackling a global humanitarian crisis that injures or kills thousands of people every year,” said CSIRO chief executive Larry Marshall.

“The precision of this technology will be a game-changer for landmine-clearing efforts, delivering a solution that is faster and more reliable than current detectors, which in turn protects the people doing the clearing and expands the range of clearing efforts to make the world a safer place.”

CSIRO developed magnetic resonance technology that detects the molecular signature of explosives used in landmines, making it more reliable than the metal detectors currently used to uncover them.

The heightened accuracy of the hand-held devices means clutter such as bottlecaps and shrapnel will not be detected, a problem which significantly slows down the current metal detection and clearance process.

“The magnetic resonance landmine detection technology will have profound impact on areas recovering from and currently experiencing hardship and danger from uncleared minefields,” said John Shanahan, managing director of CSIRO subsidiary MRead,.

“These enduring explosive remnants of war inhibit freedom of movement, limit access to food, water, schools, hospitals, and shelter that jeopardises the safe recovery and return of civilian populations.”

The first customers for the new devices will be humanitarian non-government organisations such as the HALO Trust who carry out mine clearance activities throughout the world.

Matthew Abercrombie, R&D officer at The HALO Trust, said landmines continue to directly impact the lives of people in some of the poorest communities in the world.

“Landmines kill and injure men, women, boys and girls, they kill valuable livestock, and they prevent safe access to homes, infrastructure and productive farmland,” he added

“Demining is a slow process and HALO is always looking for new equipment and techniques that can increase clearance efficiency. Detectors which can reliably discriminate between landmines and other metallic objects have the potential to have a major impact in this area.”

MRead plans on deploying its first hand-held detectors with the HALO Trust to landmine-affected regions in South-East Asia in 2024.

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