During the period November 27, 2014 to December 20, 2014, UXO Lao undertook a detection trial in Sepon. The primary objective was to assess the suitability and cost effectiveness of advanced detection systems of small ordnance. Specifically, the trial was focused on detection of a half BLU-26 at 25cm depth below the natural surface (the national standard of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR) as set by the National Regulatory Authority (NRA)). The Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD) along with Minerals and Metals Group, Lane Xang Minerals Limited (MMG LXML) and in cooperation with UXO Lao conducted and supported the detection trial. A numbers of advanced systems were compared with each other as well as with systems currently used in Lao, on blind test sites.
Several digital systems performed well, with a number achieving a higher probability of detection and less than half of the false alarm indications compared to the successful analogue systems tested. As such, they certainly should be considered as viable UXO detection systems. Going forward, it will be important to develop accreditation, operational standards and QM processes for these systems.
Some analogue systems did not perform as well as expected. The experienced technical staff handling the equipment may not have ensured proper calibration and handling of the detection equipment. Some of the results clearly highlights the importance of not only having trained staff but also a well defined quality management system that will ensure that staff and equipment is frequently tested, monitored and evaluated. Frequent refresher training is also another key component ensuring that staff is versatile with the equipment that they are using. This is even more important for supervisors that are not consistently operating the equipment.