1 - Assembling information and assessing the problem
The first step involves systematically assembling information from villagers concerning potential minefields, past accidents, animal cadavers, and human skeletal remains, as well as mere rumours of possible land mines. Socio-economic data is also gathered, crucial for setting priorities. The information thus collected is then collated and analysed in the light of any maps of minefields available from the warring parties. Marking minefields serves as a cost-effective interim step, as well as a minimum guarantee of safety.
2 - Characterising and reducing mined areas
The second step in the process involves evaluating and characterising the region identified as containing a minefield, and reducing it to the area in which mines are actually present.
3 - Demining
Mines, duds and metal scrap are now cleared by trained specialists in highly concentrated work. This is the most costly component of a project. The millions of mines scattered throughout over 60 countries around the world make it imperative to accelerate the pace of clearing, as well as to increase its security. Manual demining, after all, is painstaking, slow, dangerous and cost-intensive work.
There are different types of clearance methods:
- Manual mine detection
Specialists are equipped with special protective gear and helmets. The area under investigation must typically be cleared of the densest vegetation prior to the actual detection process. The actual work of demining then proceeds, featuring metal detectors and probes.
- Mine-detection dogs
Specially trained dogs able to sniff out explosives are used in cases of low mine density, or to delimit and reduce the size of a minefield.
- Mine-detection machines
Mine-detection machines stir up the ground as they proceed and cause mines to detonate. While they can move quickly across even territory, the machines are not suitable for use on uneven, stony, or densely overgrown areas.
4 - Documentation and hand-over of territory
Following completion of demining work, the company or organisation entrusted with the project submits a report documenting all relevant information as well as the procedure used. The last step is quality assurance in keeping with the internationally applicable standards.
The area is then handed over to the government or local authorities and the local population.