Issue 7.3, December 2003
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Systematic Test & Evaluation of Metal Detectors

Up-to-date and accurate information on available technology is urgently needed to help Mine Action Centres (MACs) and donors in the planning of demining activities and in the selection of the best-suited type of demining equipment. For this reason, the European Commission (EC) is starting a project to evaluate the performance of metal detectors on the market today.

by Noel Mulliner, UNMAS, Phil Bean, GICHD and Francois Littmann, EC JRC


Metal detectors are widely commercially available and are still the main tool used by deminers for manual demining activities. The International Pilot Project for Technology Co-operation (IPPTC) performed a large-scale metal detector trial, producing a “consumer report” for users.1 IPPTC established many principles for metal detector testing and identified the need for standardized tests to be agreed upon internationally. The United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) has performed tests of metal detectors in the past, in order to assess their suitability for specific regions like Afghanistan.2 The Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD) publishes a catalogue on metal detectors annually,3 but data is mainly provided by the manufacturers without being independently assessed. A European Centre for Standardization (CEN) Workshop Agreement (CWA) has been internationally reached on the test & evaluation (T&E) of metal detectors, published in July under the following reference CWA14747:2003.4

It is now the time to run a systematic test campaign in order to assess the capabilities of the different available metal detectors. Such a project, funded by the EC, has just been launched to measure the performance and weaknesses of metal detectors, using the agreed standard test procedures.


The first objective is to enable mine action programme managers to make informed choices over metal detector selection. The second objective is to publicize the CWA and to achieve good understanding by metal detector users of the advantages of standardized testing and the ideas that the CWA introduces. In particular, we need to encourage those that may test metal detectors to use the tests specified in the CWA. Third, it is important to stimulate users of metal detectors to provide feedback on the CWA and to suggest improvements for a future issue of the CWA. The fourth objective is the publication of independent and objective test results that can be used to update future issues of the GICHD metal detector catalogue.

Test Campaigns

The best way to publicize the CWA and collect feedback is to run trials using the CWA protocols and involving metal detector users at the different national MACs as well as those employed by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and commercial companies. The EC Joint Research Centre (JRC) plans to organize T&E campaigns following a two-stage approach:


The core partners of the proposed project will be UNMAS, the GICHD, the JRC and regional MACs, etc. All members of the International Test and Evaluation Program (ITEP) will be invited to participate actively in the tests. Furthermore, the experts already involved in contributing to the process of the CWA will be invited to participate. The results of tests will be used to update the metal detector catalogue produced by the GICHD under mandate of the United Nations.


  1. “International Pilot Project for Technology Co-operation Final Report; A multi-national technical evaluation of performance of commercial off-the-shelf metal detectors in the context of humanitarian demining.” Editors: Y. Das (CA), J.T. Dean (EC), D. Lewis (UK), J.H.J. Roosenboom (NL), and G. Zahaczewsky (US), EUR 19719 EN, 2001.
  2. “Metal Detector Trial UN Mine Action Programme Afghanistan.” February/March 2002.
  3. Metal Detectors Catalogue 2003, GICHD, February 2003, ISBN 2-88487-009-1.
  4. CEN Workshop Agreement: Humanitarian Mine Action—Test and Evaluation—Metal Detectors (CWA 14747:2003), June 2003.

Contact Information

LTC Noel Mulliner OBE RE
Room DC2-602
2 United Nations Plz
New York, NY 10017
Tel: 212-963-2627
Fax: 212-963-2498

Mr. Philip Bean
7bis Avenue de la Paix
PO Box 1300
Geneve 1
CH 1211
Tel: +41-22-906-1687
Fax: +41-22-906-1690

Mr. Francois Littmann
TP 723
Ispra 21020
Tel: +39 0332 78 62 30
Fax: +39 0332 78 54 69