November 4, 2011
NEW LANDMINE DETECTION TECHNOLOGY TO ASSIST IN LANDMINE CLEARANCE PROGRAMS
LONDON - A leading British firm at the forefront of landmine detection capability has today confirmed that it is to offer humanitarian assistance and to restart negotiations on a major landmine clearance program with Libya’s National Transitional Council (NTC) and its newly appointed interim Prime Minister Abdurrahim el-Keib.
The offer of humanitarian assistance was made after Mineseeker CEO Mike Kendrick received an email communication from Libya requesting the company’s assistance to help clear landmines laid during the Libyan revolution. Mineseeker is to receive an invitation to visit to Libya in the coming weeks.
Mineseeker Operations Overseas Ltd (Mineseeker), founded by former Virgin Airship & Balloon company CEO Mike Kendrick, a long time friend and former business associate of Sir Richard Branson, confirmed that it is to offer its Multi Spectral Imaging Radar (MIR)™ technology, in a humanitarian capacity to assist the NTC in its landmine clearance program that will need to be undertaken as Libya moves towards a democracy as a post conflict Arab nation.
Dozens of civilians including women and children have been killed or injured in recent weeks during the Civil uprising in Libya leading to the overthrow of Colonel Gaddafi. Troops loyal to Gaddafi had planted indiscriminate metal and plastic landmines in the strategic towns and cities of Zlitan, Ajdabiya, Bani Walid, Misrata and Tripoli as the former dictator struggled to hold onto power.
Mike Kendrick has previously visited Tripoli, accompanied, on one occasion by Sir Richard Branson for discussions with the Gaddafi led Libyan Government. The discussions outlined a landmine clearance program to survey areas of land in Libya where landmines and unexploded ordnance have been left over from World War 2 and which continue to prevent the exploration of oil and gas fields.
Now the British firm is to seeking to re-start talks with the newly appointed Prime Minister Abdurrahim el-Keib and board members of the National Transitional Council of Libya to assist in providing a landmine clearance program using its landmine detection radar capability. It is also seeking a meeting with Andrew Mitchell the UK’s Secretary of State for International Development, with a view to discussing how Mineseeker’s landmine detection technology can be deployed in other UK development aid projects.
Mike Kendrick said; “We look forward to and welcome early discussions with the National Transitional Council, the Prime Minister and its board members. We expect to visit Libya in the coming weeks to assess how Mineseeker can assist the NTC in their landmine clearance program. We have previously dealt with the Libyan Government under the Gaddafi regime, so we have an understanding of the scale and magnitude of the problem but this has been greatly impacted by the recent revolution. The immediate priority for the NTC will be to make safe the newly laid mines in the towns and cities and then to liberate the land in and around the oil exploration fields and key road infrastructures to restore the country’s economy and wealth generation. The NTC have a lot of issues to consider as they move towards a democracy in a post conflict state and we expect this process and discussions to take some time.”
Kendrick’s company, Mineseeker, an aerial survey and mapping company, has developed the unique landmine detection technology in conjunction with the British Ministry of Defence and American defence contractors for humanitarian aid. The groundbreaking technology has been extensively trialled in Kosovo, Croatia and the USA and was first deployed using airships. It has now been miniaturised and successfully trialled on helicopters, which can currently survey up to five square kilometres per day. It’s advancement in locating landmines has life changing ramifications.
Mineseeker’s CEO Mike Kendrick believes that the overthrow of Gaddafi and the Civil War has led to a new crisis in the country. “Many innocent men, women and children have been killed or injured as a result of landmines, many cannot go about their normal daily lives or return to their homes for fear of unexploded landmines and ordnance (UXO). One of the greatest risks of death also comes from the danger of children playing with landmines left exposed in the ground which they mistake for toys or objects to play with.
He added; “The process of landmine clearance has also been hampered as many of their military personnel have a very limited knowledge and experience in the deadly task of landmine clearance, some are using primitive methods with little more than a metal garden rake to find landmines. The process of landmine detection is ever more complicated by the fact that there are also both metal and plastic landmines buried beneath the surface making their detection even more difficult.”
Mineseeker’s innovative and advanced lightweight technology uses ground penetrating synthetic aperture radar (GPSAR) and photo mosaic technology to produce a fusion of “Multi-Spectral and Imaging Radar” (MIR)™ of both surface and sub-surface targets, designed specifically to locate landmines and unexploded remnants of war. The company has also developed other detection applications and will be looking to launch “Aquaseeker”, “Airseeker”, “Threatseeker” and “Landseeker” in due course. Mineseeker remains the only company to have demonstrated MIR™ technology in an operational environment to date.
Kendrick continued; “It is vital that the towns and cities of Libya are made safe and that a rapid landmine clearance program is undertaken. Men, women and children need to be able to go about their daily lives, return to their homes without fear of treading on or touching a landmine. There are also much wider ramifications in restoring Libya’s infrastructure its energy reserves, water supply and electricity. Many of the oil fields are now littered with landmines, these will need to be identified and cleared before the country can resume its production and supply of oil and in turn restore its economic wealth and prosperity. Previous conflicts in that area has left landmines in the ground for the past 60 years, killing and injuring civilians on a daily basis and inhibiting growth and economic recovery particularly in the oil and gas fields of the eastern dessert. We must not let this happen again..”
It is estimated by the United Nations that there are more than 100 million landmines located in over 70 countries around the world which have maimed or killed more than 1 million people across the world to date. Every nineteen minutes someone is affected by a landmine. With current detection methods it will take, according to the UN, up to 600 years to rid the planet of landmines and cost in the region of $50 Billion. Utilising Mineseeker technology and mobilising a fleet of twenty-five aircraft the current estimated timeframe could be reduced to approximately 30 years and the cost reduced by a factor of ten. These figures do not take into account the many millions of landmines laid in recent areas of conflict including Iraq and Afghanistan.