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MRead partners with The HALO Trust to develop new landmine detection technology

The HALO Trust and MRead entered into a Heads of Agreement (HoA) to partner for research & development in developing novel sensing technology which seeks to improve the accuracy of detecting, and hence improving clearance rates of landmines around the world. The HoA formalises discussions that have taken place during MRead’s formation. The MRead team was joined by Dr David Miljak from Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, and recently visited The HALO Trust’s operations in Cambodia. This visit and our continued collaboration aims to get a better understanding of the realities of humanitarian demining operations.

September 13, 2023

HALO and MRead during a visit to HALO's Cambodian demining operations

The HoA will provide a framework for MRead and The HALO Trust to collaborate on developing new landmine detection capabilities. The activities covered in the HoA include site visits, information sharing and equipment trials. By collaborating at this early stage of development, MRead and HALO aim to accelerate the product development process and ensure that the sensors are rugged, reliable and fit-for-purpose. MRead will benefit from HALO’s extensive operational experience of clearing minefields around the world and HALO will gain an insight and input into the development of this novel technology.

The HALO Trust is a non-governmental organisation (NGO) that protects lives and restores the livelihoods of people affected by conflict. HALO have active landmine clearing programmes in 30 countries and territories around the world, most recently in Ukraine. MRead is an Australian company formed to commercialise CSIRO’s Magnetic Resonance (MR)sensing technology. MRead’s first product under development is a novel sensor for detecting landmines.

The MRead team’s visit to Cambodia enabled us to gain a first-hand insight into the extraordinary work of The HALO Trust. MRead are extremely grateful for the generosity of all HALO staff who took timeout of their important work to engage with us and answer the hundreds of questions that we asked over the week. We were inspired by the work that the Cambodian deminers are doing and impressed by the systems that HALO have developed. As per HALO in Cambodia, there are many other countries in which HALO and other NGOs are working to improve the local communities’ return to normality such as in Somalia, Angola, Sri Lanka and Ukraine – sadly the list goes on, as do the casualties.

“Landmines kill and injure men, women, boys and girls, they kill valuable livestock, and they prevent safe access to homes, infrastructure and productive farmland. However, demining is a slow process and HALO is always looking for new equipment and techniques that can increase clearance efficiency. Detectors which can reliably discriminate between landmines and other metallic objects have the potential to make a major impact in this area.

"We can see the potential in the technology that MRead are developing, and hope that we can help develop it as quickly and efficiently as possible so it can begin improving demining methods as soon as possible.” Matthew Abercrombie, The HALO Trust Research & Development Officer
  “We cannot thank HALO enough for welcoming us into their operations. It has been an eye-opening experience for the MRead team and has given us a real sense of purpose and urgency to develop our sensors as quickly as possible. The dedication by the entire HALO team, who risk their lives all day and every day, was on full display – it is a challenging, exhausting and labour-intensive clearance process. The commitment by HALO to the local communities is amazing and enables nations to recover from war.” John Shanahan, MRead Managing Director

“There is no replacement for seeing the demining process in front of you. The visit has given us a much better insight into how our sensors can be integrated into a demining system, and how they should be designed. A key focus for MRead is to build our products with the operator in mind, so we were keen to get an insight from the people in the minefield, who will be using our sensors.” - Nick Cutmore, MRead Chief Technology Officer.

The visit has given MRead a good understanding of current methods for humanitarian demining operations. We came away from the visit with reaffirmed confidence that our sensors could assist in speeding up the clearance process and potentially be game changing. We have identified some key new design elements that we will incorporate into our product to ensure that it is rugged, reliable and effective.

MRead and The HALO Trust plan to continue this close engagement through the product development cycle and hope to test the first-generation sensors in mid-2024 in both Australia and Cambodia. We would like to thank HALO Cambodia for all their support and advice whilst hosting us on this visit. It was exceptional.