HALO’s manual deminers provide the backbone of most clearance programs.
People can work in almost any ground conditions and reach places where it would be impossible to take machines. This makes manual demining the most versatile component of HALO’s operations.
Manual deminers are equipped with electronic detectors which alarm on even the smallest metal components in landmines. Each piece of metal must be carefully excavated to determine if it is a landmine or not. This is painstaking work, and each individual deminer may only clear 10-50 square meters a day. Manual deminers work in small teams but many HALO clearance areas have dozens of teams and hundreds of deminers – while it is not unknown for over a thousand deminers to be working in one place (such as along the old Taliban/Northern Alliance front lines south of Bagram airbase in Afghanistan).
In some areas metal detectors cannot be used efficiently due to the high amount of metal in the ground, in these cases all of the surface soil must be removed to the required depth using hand tools. HALO has also pioneered the use of ground-penetrating radar in humanitarian mineclearance which enables deminers to differentiate between metal rubbish and actual landmines. The range of equipment and procedures used by HALO deminers across the world reflects the variety of threats they face (anti-personnel mines, anti-tank mines, cluster munitions) and the different types of terrain in which they have to work (fields, mountains, river beds, deserts, beaches, jungle, savannah and more).