The work of a mine- and explosives clearance worker, also known as a deminer is the same today as it was 20 years ago. A deminer conducts a systematic search of an area to localize possible mines and explosive remnants of war ( ERW ) using vegetation cutters, rakes, metal detectors and prodders. When a suspect object is found, the deminer must go down on his/her hands and knees and uncover it by carefully removing surrounding earth.
If safe, mines and other ERW found are disarmed or temporarily secured and removed to a collection point for later detonation. If this is not considered a safe option, detonation in situ will take place.
Manual clearance is both labour intensive and time consuming, yet it is an extremely reliable method that does not require large investments. Another advantage of manual clearance is that the NPA workforce is recruited and trained locally, bringing extra benefits in terms of employment and income creation, as well as local ownership of the mine or explosives problem.
A key demining tool is the metal detector. The metal detector, as the name suggests, detects metal, normally a component of a landmine or UXO. Once metal is detected, the detector will signal this to the deminer, which must then further investigate whether the detector in fact has found an explosive object, or whether there is simply scrap metal in the ground.
Once the detector signals a finding, a prodder may be used by the deminer. The prodder is designed to assist deminers to locate mines and explosive ordnances buried at depths up to 20cm.The Prodder is small, lightweight and easily carried, and is used once a detector signals a finding.
In countries with dense vegetation, removing vegetation is necessary before activities such as manual clearance can take place. A range of tools can be used dependent on factors such as threat, topography and the type of vegetation - all from basic gardening tools, light machines such as strimmers to vegetation cutters installed on mechanical mine clearance machines.
If the ground conditions allow, rakes can be used as a clearance tool. The methodology uses the raking tool to excavate and sift the ground to the required depth.