Mine clearance is a highly dangerous activity, but it is essential to undertake when there is a need to clear unexploded ordnance and safely return the land to be used. Whether the intention is to use the area to re-build homes destroyed by conflict or to provide agricultural land to help provide food to sustain a local population, a demining process is necessary to ensure that the area is completely cleared and poses no risk to people reusing the area.
There are many difficulties faced by mine detection, demining and clearance teams. The first is having an accurate assessment and history of the affected area. Landmines can often be very simple devices and could be built anywhere, either manufactured locally or brought in from an outside source in great numbers. They could also have been planted over an increasing period of time, making old landmine maps discovered of little use as they may not reflect the true scale or number of mines that exist.
Landmines are very quick and easy to lay but so very difficult and dangerous to locate and remove by hand. Because of their unknown positions and irregular spacing, they can often be difficult to detect and may follow an unpredictable layout.
There is also the local terrain to consider. Many areas recovering from conflict have a tremendous diversity of environmental conditions and local terrains, which can also hamper even the most dedicated and careful mine detection and demining activities. Mine detection teams are often faced with a variety of different landmines to locate that have been adapted to work more effectively with local conditions. A large area with terrain that includes rocky surfaces, desert, forest, muddy banks or has steep hillsides may contain many different types of landmine.
Not only do you have to consider the terrain but you also have to take account of environmental conditions that could affect both the landmines as well as their discovery. Working in different climatic conditions means the deming teams could face extremely hot, humid, wet, cold or windy weather.
Clearing areas of bush, scrub and forest also causes different challenges, especially with the density of vegetation that may have been allowed to overgrow the area since the mines were originally laid. The environmental conditions can also affect the soil over time, so farmland soil that was soft and well cultivated when the mines were laidmay now be hardened over or even covered with snow or water.
Some minefields may have been laid many years previously, so the mines could be waterlogged, heavily corroded or filled with dirt and mud, making them quite unpredictable to handle and dispose of in a safe manner. Many mines that have been buried too deep for detection by manual minesweeping on the surface can pose future risks to workmen or farmers re-purposing the land after mine clearance has taken place.
Landmine discovery equipment
Landmines can vary greatly in terms of size and types. Anti-personnel mines for example can be made from a wide variety of different materials. More modern mines are being manufactured using plastic and wood components that make them undetectable for metal detection techniques. Of course there have been many new methods of detecting explosive devices of this nature, but the technology is still very limited by its sensitivity and can be greatly affected by the type of terrain and environment they are being used in.
The Amtrac demining solution
Where appropriate conditions exist, the use of modern robotic demining machinery and equipment supplied by Amtrac offers a safe and effective solution that removes the risk of human injury or death. With remote-control capabilities, our modern mine detection equipment is a safe and reliable way to manage the dangerous task of conducting technical survey and subsequent clearance.
The use of demining machinery not only removes the human risk element, but it can also save a lot of time and manpower expense. We have demining robots fitted with equipment that can help clear vegetation but also to process ground in order to safely detonate or shatter mines so that they no longer pose the same threat.
Unmanned mine clearance is the logical choice not only because of the use of sophisticated and dedicated equipment that has been specifically designed for purpose, but also for the overalleconomic feasibility of thelandmine clearance project.
It is essential to have a reliable and highly accurate solution for your demining operation, so having the option of choosing from a wide range of different minefield clearance solutions means that Amtrac will have something suitable for your immediate needs. For example, the Armtrac 20T Mk2 has a tiller tool attachment that spins at 600 - 800 RPM and has a clearance width of 1515mm (Flail 1476mm). The tiller is designed to clear EO and IED devices down to 150 mm depth or 200 mm in softer soil. There are also other useful attachments available, such as the hydraulic Robotic Arm that can attach a Grapple or a Manipulator Grab for investigating suspect EO or moving them to a safer location for detonation.
The Manipulator Gripper, Grapple, Scrape Bucket and the Strimmer can all be exchanged rapidly using standard tools.
To find out more about our demining machinery, get in touch today.