MMG LXML Sepon, in partnership with the Lao Ministry of Defence, NRA and UXO Lao, is improving unexploded ordinance (UXO) clearance standards in Laos by enhancing the capacity of Lao UXO technicians. MMG has also recently introduced a new item of equipment to enhance UXO detection at Sepon mine.

The UltraTEM II Deep Bomb Detection System passed two trials at Sepon mine, detecting UXO buried up to 3.5 metres deep. UltraTEM was developed in Australia by Gap Explosive Ordnance Detection. It is a multi-sensor mobile frame that can provide high definition digital mapping of buried UXO.

The new system distinguishes closely spaced targets, provides accurate estimates of position and depth, and produces an auditable digital recording.

Laos is the most heavily bombed country, per capita, in the world. Approximately 260 million bombs were dropped on Laos between 1964 and 1973. Of these, some 80 million did not explode, leaving a deadly UXO legacy. UXO continues to claim lives and cause injuries in the country.

LXML recently sponsored the 5th National Regulatory Authority (NRA) Senior Explosive Ordnance Disposal (SEOD) Course in Vientiane. The course aims to build capacity for Lao EOD technicians to attain the highest internationally recognized qualifications and experience in UXO clearance techniques.

“We are working closely with donors and private sector partners to establish a pool of qualified Lao UXO clearance technicians to achieve our objectives,” said NRA director Phoukhieo Chanthasomboune.

“At MMG, we mine to create wealth for our people, host communities and shareholders,” said LXML Sepon general manager Suresh Vadnagra. “UXO clearance is an essential activity in the mining cycle. At the same time, it improves the living conditions of our communities by making them safer and by removing obstacles to development.”

Since operations commenced at Sepon, LXML has cleared more than 2900 hectares of land, destroying more than 45,000 items of unexploded ordnance.

In the UXO team, LXML employs more than 180 fulltime and 300 temporary workers from Vilabouly district, as well as 50 fulltime Lao supervisory experts.

Of the UltraTEM, LXML UXO Department’s senior geophysicist Michael Laneville said: “We were clearing UXO with different types of equipment depending on soil properties. This placed restrictions on mining below 1.25 metres in some areas. UltraTEM can detect UXO up to 2.5 metres in a single pass in all soil types, increasing speed and accuracy. I am very proud that LXML is using cutting edge detection technology, providing safer, more efficient, UXO clearance solutions.”

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