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A gift of Australian demining technology to be presented to Egypt



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M E D IA RELEASE MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS ALEXANDER DOWNER

AA48 Saturday 13 June 1998

EMBARGOED UNTIL 9.15PM AEST

A GIFT OF AUSTRALIAN DEMINING TECHNOLOGY TO BE PRESENTED TO EGYPT

I am pleased to announce that I have presented a sample of leading edge Australian demining technology to Egypt.

During my three day visit, I had the pleasure of presenting a mine detector, developed and manufactured by the South Australian company, Minelab Electronics Pty Ltd, to my Egyptian counterpart, His Excellency Mr Amr Moussa.

Egypt remains affected by millions of mines laid in the Western Desert by both Allied and Axis forces during the Second World War, as well as mines in the Sinai and Red Sea coast of more recent origin.

Demining in the Western Desert - as elsewhere - is both expensive and dangerous. The average direct and indirect costs of land mine removal is at least $300 per mine. Demining is particularly problematic given the age of the mines and the shifting desert sands. Mines could now be buried as deep as five metres under sands, which makes detection extremely difficult.

A number of countries are involved in assessing the scale of the demining problem in Egypt and what might be done to assist. I have asked the Egyptian authorities to keep me informed of any concrete projects which emerge from this international effort.

Australia has played an active role in demining-related activities around the world and is well-recognised for its technological and management expertise.

Adelaide company Minelab today has more than 1,000 of their mine detectors operating in mine affected countries, including Cambodia, Laos, Rwanda, South Africa and Bosnia.

Minelab’s mine detectors, originally developed for the gold-mining industry in Victoria, Western Australia and Queensland, are now helping rid the world of these deadly weapons. The mine detector offers world-class technology and excellent allĀ­

round capability. It outperforms other detectors in deep and mineralised soil conditions. This enables operators to cover more ground in the same period of time.

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In the past, other detectors lacked the sensitivity to distinguish between a mine and the background soil minerals.

This is a fine example of Australian technology being at the forefront of Australia’s global humanitarian demining efforts.

CAIRO

Media contacts: Mike Smith (Cairo) 0011 20 2 340 3076 Innes Willox (Minister’s office) 0411 414 695 Matt Francis (AusAID) 0417 683 126

Media releases and speeches are available from AusAID via the Internet, http://www.ausaid.gov.au