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Analytical Reviews
Analytical Reviews    Military engineering and weapon WORLD MARKET OF ANTIPERSONNEL MINES

World market of antipersonnel mines

(Current status and development outlook)

In future, minefield is likely to be transformed into a kind of a “thinking creature”. “Intelligent minefield” will be able to determine a direction and a type of a target, automatically arm and disarm itself as well as use its own radio-electronic countermeasures during mine delouse operation. Mine will no longer explode only upon of a pressure applied on it. All said above is in good correspondence with the concept of the “Advanced Intelligent Minefield - IMF” being implemented by the US Army as a part of the “modern battle field” general system where information is continuously received, processed and transferred digitally in a real time mode.

Employment of helicopters equipped with a proper ammunition on a battle field is changing the priorities. The number of tanks and, therefore, the number of antitank mines is being reduced. The role of antihelicopter armament is expected to grow. Current estimates show that appr. 1 mln antihelicopter mines can be produced over the next decade, including 300,000 mines in the USA, 300,000 mines in Europe, and over 300,000 mines in the other regions of the world. Potential long-term market of these mines is huge.

Mines and their carriers can’t be considered independently any longer. In future, mines are expected to be delivered by and laid from aircrafts, since handy or mechanical mining as well as mining from armored vehicles (the latter shows some features of the future systems) don’t comply with the up-to-date of short-running fight requirements.

Researches being carried out in this area and elaboration of new plans on mine application make a significant contribution to strengthening the national defense system. Loosing or incomplete fulfilling the possibilities available due to political unacceptability of some types of mines is a catastrophe for many countries.

Obviously, that with a clear vision on the development scenario and without adoption of too complicated technical decisions it’s possible to strengthen the position of the mine industry and improve its efficiency. As a result, controlled mines will remain more or less acceptable ammunition in the nearest future.

Antipersonnel mines laid in Cambodia, Afghanistan, Mozambique and Chechnya, are of a special concern. In these countries many people (children, in the first place) die or being injured, having tripped a mine. The idea of using mines is disgusting for civilian society, and this is a root of the increasing intention to outlaw mine trade. Notwithstanding that each step towards reducing the number of these dangerous human losses is widely supported by the society, it’s well-known from the experience that any move in this direction may lead to emergence of a “brown” mine market. In this case countries implementing more responsible policy won’t be able to intervene the mine distribution process. In the long run that means that a new generation of mines has to be equipped with self-destroying devices to bring advanced mines in compliance with ethical expectation of the society.

Self-destroying devices can be installed on the mines even today. These devices are fed from a battery typically used in electronic watches, which breaks contacts. When the battery is discharged, contacts close and mine explodes. Antipersonnel mines equipped with the self-destroying devices can be programmed on self-explosion upon expiration of a certain period (three months, for instance). Of course, this technical solution doesn’t allow to completely avoid the losses among civilians, but in the course of time it can significantly decrease human losses.

Manufacture of cheap (with a price below USD 10) mines of this type can be organized practically at all existing enterprises. A pressure should be put on mine-manufacturing countries to make them act in conformity with the recent UN standards. Sanctions imposed on a military & technical cooperation, a ban on armament & military equipment trade and soldiers’ training as well as prohibition of participation in various military alliances could set provisions for mine-producing countries to comply with the said standards within, say, 10 years. Nevertheless, it should be mentioned that in future all types of mines will remain an important tool in conducting military operations. If the IMF-concept is successfully implemented and advanced design mobile mine-carriers are developed, the dominant position of mines among other military ammunition will strengthen. Now it can be stated for sure that in the next 50 years production of all types of mines will be evaluated in millions of dollars, and producers will receive huge revenues from mine trade.

Major producers are expected to assist in developing and submitting subsidies to establish production lines of these, and even less dangerous for civilians, mines.



Until recently, there hasn’t been any reliable information on mine production, prices, trade volumes and installation areas. Various reports available on this matter, including official reports elaborated by the US Army Directorate For Antimine systems and the Congress Investigation Service, don’t take into account many mine-producing companies. In the other words, these reports contain only partial information about world’s mine production. More detailed research shows that about 360 types of antipersonnel mines are now being manufactured by appr. 100 companies and state enterprises in 55 countries, i.e. the number of mine types and mine-producing countries has grown by 100 and 20, respectively, as compared with the previous disclosed data. The number of countries, exporters of antipersonnel mines, which didn’t exceed 36 not long ago, but since then this figure has decreased.

The surveys conducted illustrate that over the last 10-15 years China, Italy and former Soviet Union were the major exporters of ordinary antipersonnel mines (OAPM).

American analysts, working for the Foreign Science and Technology Center (FSTC) and the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), also include the Czech Republic and former Yugoslavia in this category. Yet 10 years ago such countries as Belgium, Great Britain and the USA were also mentioned among the world leading mine exporters, ever since their mine export has dropped. The second category, called “large exporters” according to the FSTC classification, includes Bulgaria, France and Hungary. Peak export volumes in these countries were registered in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Data on mines laid in various regions of the world is another source of information about countries’ mine export. It turns out that mines made in more than 25 countries has been used in 9 regions and caused significant losses among civilians.


Mines marketing and installation

Since the end of the World War II, over 400 mln controlled mines, including more than 65 mln mines since 1978, have been laid. Ever since, annual production of antipersonnel mine is believed to stand at 7.5 mln. Given a lack of complete and reliable information on the matter, actual output might be higher.

According to the US State Department, 65-110 mln controlled mines have been installed in 62 countries to-date. According to other sources, the number of non-neutralized mines is higher and reaches 200 mln; at least 75% of that amount is believed to be antipersonnel mines. Active mining, carried out over the last 15 years, “created a source of death for civilians for many years to come”, the FSTC analysts are quoted as saying.

But, if to consider antipersonnel mines as a commodity, it should be mentioned that their share in the armament market is insignificant. By rough estimates, total annual OAPM production volume, excluding manufacture of delivery, mining and auxiliary tools, values only at USD 100 mln.

Since antipersonnel mines have been used more broadly than antitank mines (the ratio ranges from 3:1 to 40:1 and even higher), mine-carrying systems and some antitank mines are the major contributors to the controlled mines’ price.

It’s important to stress that due to alterations in the mine design and in the tactics of the mine employment over the last years, the boundaries between scattering mines and a more wide range of other bombs and mines delivered by missiles and aircrafts as well as cassette mines’ sub-ammunition have been erasing. Since 1970, 750 mln units of sub-ammunition have been manufactured in the USA alone; this figure exceeds the world’s total output of antitank and antipersonnel mines over the same period.

Besides the USA, China, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Poland, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Great Britain and former Yugoslavia are the largest sub-ammunition manufacturers. The anti-Iraqi coalition is believed to have used over 24 mln units of sub-ammunition during the war in the Persian Gulf in 1990-1991.

Market of controlled mines

Antipersonnel mines are divided to three large classes discussed in this matter in the order of their penetration to the world market.

Ordinary antipersonnel mines

Ordinary antipersonnel mines (OAPM) and antitank mines became a commodity long ago.

The OAPM modern design is based on the designs developed in the 1940s - early 1960s. Over the last 25 years the design of these mines has hardly changed. It should be noted, that the OAPMs are easy to manufacture and a major part of the OAPMs is manufactured at the out-of-date equipment and presumes extensive scope of manual labor. The OAPM production is organized in a great number of countries.

The situation with an American mine M18A1 (Claymore) is a typical example of the worldwide propagation of a successful technical decision. The US Army has been producing the Claymore mines of the current design since 1960 and plans to manufacture this model even in the next millennium. Production of these mines (under the license or without proper permission) is arranged in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Nearest East.

Since the competition among the OAPM manufacturers is very strong, large profits can only be obtained at the lowest production costs.

The volume of the OAPMs produced by private companies is relatively high; expenditures, the private sector had incurred on the mine development and application, if any spending took place at all, had been warranted many years ago, because a large part of the ordinary controlled mines was manufactured at the state-owned defense enterprises at the expense of the state. Low investments are required to produce this type of mines, because in any well-known state-owned or private company the income from selling this model to the company’s annual revenue is insignificant. In fact, none of the western mine producers promotes these mines through an issue of advertising booklets and catalogs or by participation in specialized military shows.

Even more aggressive mine suppliers, the 3rd world countries, promote this product only together with other military production (artillery systems, ammunition, guns).

Scattering antipersonnel mines

Scattering antipersonnel mines (SAPM) and mine systems appeared in the market in the last 25 years. With the development of the SAPM, the hardly sensible boundary between antipersonnel and antitank mines is disappearing, since these systems have much in common: mines used in either system are interchangeable, and the same carriers are applied. At least 22 countries, including Belgium, Bulgaria, China, the Czech Republic, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Iraq, Spain, Poland, Portugal, Russia, South Africa, Great Britain and Yugoslavia, produce the SAPMs or SAPM systems.

Since the volume of private investments in the SAPM’s R&D is significant, companies running business in this field are eager to penetrate to and establish on the emerging markets.

Advanced ordinary antipersonnel mines

Technical decisions found during the development of the SAPM systems were then rapidly implemented in manually-laying antipersonnel mines (MLAPMs). As a result, a new class of cheap and small antipersonnel mines that do not contain metal parts appeared. Production of these mines is now widely spread. Manual installation of the MLAPMs doesn’t require specialized knowledge or skill.

Three Italian enterprises, including two companies now being under control of FIAT, were the first to have established in this market segment.

Advanced ordinary antipersonnel mines (AOAPM) are very light in weight, easy to transport, difficult to detect, and can be extremely dangerous during the mine neutralization works. Many mines, presented as “plastic” or “non-metallic” mines, in fact contain at least negligible quantity of metal, but this concentration is too small to be detected by metal detectors. However, in the last years mines, which do not really contain metal items and therefore, more difficult for detection, started saturating the market. American analysts working for the Directorate for Antimine Systems informed that China and Italy actually manufacture mines with chemical detonators that do not include metal substances.

According to the data presented by the World Service for Liquidation of Explosive Substances and Devices (EQDWS), completely plastic mines made in the former Yugoslavia, were the most difficult for neutralization during the antimine operation in Kuwait.

Trends in the development of the antipersonnel mine market

Depraved practice of using controlled antipersonnel mines (CAPM) against civilians, in the first place, and as a tool for destroying economic activity is widening. Nevertheless, due to the measures, undertaken in more than 10 countries and targeted at mine export hampering and prohibition, outlooks of this market are uncertain.

Since the OAPMs are easy to manufacture and their production involves cheap labor in order to reach economic success, the OAPM production trends to relocate from the industrially developed countries to the developing ones. Given a limited demand on the home market, mine producers’ aspiration to cut costs per production unit is a stimuli for seeking new opportunities to boost mine output.

Major part of the SAPM’s R&D expenditures is channeled to the design of special platforms to deliver mines over long distances. Information is available that in the last years at least 5 companies in 4 countries were involved in the development of the systems appropriate for long-distance strikes.

For instance, MesserSchmidt-Belkov-Blom, a subsidiary of Dymler-Benz, together with a French company Matra and British firm British Airspace, participated in 2 joint projects. Dornier (Germany) and Thomson Brandt (France) take part in another project; Chinese company Norinco accomplishes its own independent project. Such well-known exporters of mining systems as Great Britain, Israel, Italy, former USSR and the USA, possess the elaborations sufficiently enough to promote this new product to the market. Products, making by these recognized exporters, are likely to face strong competition from the systems designed in Austria, Egypt, South Africa and some East-European countries.

The mine market is featured with an increasing supply and a lack of sustainable demand. The lack of sustainable demand could be explained by growing uncertainty regarding prompt & tactic advisability of controlled mine application as well as growing aspiration to develop mechanisms for defending the civilians from the consequences of the mine war.

Despite, Western countries consider that it’s necessary to continue spending on the development of new types of controlled mine systems. In Great Britain, for example, special attention is paid to modernization and improvement of technical performance and specifications of mine systems, since these systems are believed to be cheap, to have high function-to-costs index, and to assist in increasing safety of the army forces. In addition, these mine systems, being the a defense tool in principle, are considered politically acceptable.

Other countries have a different view on the issue of mine wars. For instance, at the mine manufacturers’ symposium, held in 1994, General Gray, the Commander of the Navy Infantry Corps, now retired, stated that “he doesn’t see operative advantages of extensive use of mines and that he doesn’t know any history cases of either the wars in Korea, South-East Asia and Panama, or the “Storm in Desert” operation, when application of mines have resulted in non-recoverable losses in the enemy’s army”.

Such an uncertainty about the efficiency of mines usage allows critics think that limitations imposed on the antipersonnel mines application are insufficient and will in no case influence military operation efficiency. For the time being, regulating measures basically relate to the mine export issues. In the wake, these measures were just unilateral. They started with the USA’s moratorium on export of antipersonnel controlled mines introduced in January 1992 for one year and then extended until 1997.

In 1992, the European Parliament appealed to the member-countries to declare a 5-year moratorium on mine export. The UN General Assembly Resolution submitted in November 1993 by the USA, supported by the representatives of 66 countries and then unanimously adopted, called for a worldwide moratorium on antipersonnel controlled mine usage.

Besides the USA, another 11 countries including the world leading mine exporters (Argentina, Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Spain, South Africa, Switzerland) recently introduced a moratorium on antipersonnel mine export. In June 1995, the Defense Minister of Italy Mr. Cegare Pretifi announced that his government would go even further and ban not only export, but output of antipersonnel mines as well. In July 1994, Great Britain informed about introduction of a partial moratorium; the ban imposed doesn’t cover all types of mines delivered by the air or equipped with a self-destroying device.

Nowadays, there are no international agreements or other mechanisms regulating production or transfer of controlled mines. The Minute on Mines, being a part of the 1980 Convention on Ordinary Types of Armament, deals only with the matters connected with a mine usage.

In anticipation of a new wave of attempts to hamper mines production and application, some countries plan to procure large volumes of mines, including scattering systems for antipersonnel and antitank mines. Greece, the Netherlands and Spain are potential European buyers of these systems. Manufacturers are endeavoring to sell their products to non-European buyers, namely, to India, Saudi Arabia, South Korea and Taiwan.

Individual exporters of antipersonnel controlled mines

It’s extremely hard to gather information about controlled mines and guns trade volumes. The examples given below illustrate variety of tricks used by some countries in the international marketing of controlled mines.


Major part of Chinese export deliveries is effected through the Norinco company which supplies at least 4 types of antipersonnel mines and jet-propelled volley systems for mine scattering.

Ordinary antipersonnel mines made in China are of the world’s cheapest. These mines have been laid in Angola, Cambodia, Iran, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Somali and many others.

In mid-1994, a cargo of Chinese mines and cassette accessories, heading, possibly, for Sudan, was found in the port of Gibuti in East Africa. According to DIA’s analysts, China was and still remains the world’s major supplier both of ordinary mines and state-of-the-art engineering systems to the 3rd world countries. The items found in the port could be used by any military subdivision ranging from “a separate terrorist group to a large well-equipped army”. Until 1970, all after-war Chinese mines had only copied Soviet designs. In 1970, China started developing its own systems, scattering mines in the first place. First scattering mines manufactured in China were manually thrown down from aircrafts and landed on parachutes on the ground. A bit later, China managed a mechanical mine laying and started using missiles, ground vehicles, planes and helicopters to carry over mines. Wuxi, a R&D institute for technical equipment, is a leading Chinese company conducting R&D of detonators, mine transmitters, scattering mines and other military ammunition.

China is also an important client for western companies involved in export of auxiliary technologies to produce mines. Licenses, granted by Japan, West-European countries and the USA, have significantly improved China’s capabilities in production of mine systems and other military ammunition. Such companies as an American LTV and an Italian Valsella presented their advanced mining systems at the home military shows held in the mid-1980s. China is carefully studying agreements on procurement and joint development in order to get access to the most sophisticated technologies. In addition, China widely practices illegal procurement with consequent duplication of advanced military devices.


In Italy, three companies (Valsella, BPD, Technovar) are involved in mine production. These companies are likely the most aggressive suppliers of mines to the world market. Appr. 50% of shares of the first two above-named companies belong to FIAT, the largest private company in Italy.

Unlike other countries’ practice, these three companies are specialized in controlled mine production. At least 5 countries (Egypt, Greece, Portugal, Singapore and Spain) manufacture Italian mines under licenses or agreements on joint production. Information about mine deliveries through false firms in Nigeria and Spain, production of Italian mines in Iraq, Cyprus and South Africa, mine traffic through Jordan and Paraguay is available. It’s a well-known fact that in 1986 Iraq, Indonesia and South Africa were the chief buyers of antipersonnel mines produced by Valsella. In the latter case some deals were effected against Paraguay’s end user’s documents. Dubai, Finland, Pakistan, Singapore, Thailand are also named among other well-known buyers. Besides, Singaporean company Charted Inctutries bought accessories to manufacture not less than 7 mln mines on site.

Duplicates of Valsella’s Valmara 69 antipersonnel frog mines are manufactured in Iraq and South Africa, in the latter case with the label №69Mk1.

BPD’s Difesae Spazio, another FIAT’s mine producing subsidiary, supplies antipersonnel mines to the NATO countries, including the Netherlands and Spain, as well as to Argentina and Iraq. BPD’s antipersonnel mines are also manufactured in Greece, Iraq, Spain and Portugal. Technovar’s specialists are convinced that their company’s success on the marketplace is based on the 1960’s shift to the production of plastic mines. In the mid-1980s, these mines produced by the company prevailed on the home market, and the company won a tender to deliver mines to South Africa and the Nearest East.

Technovar’s antipersonnel mines are also made under license and joint production agreements in Egypt and Singapore.


Until 1982, the USA was a key exporter of ordinary antipersonnel controlled mines. According to the official data, export volumes drastically shrank in the late 1970s, but slightly rose in the late 1980s when scattering antipersonnel mines went on export. Official representatives of Alliant Techsystems claim that with the introduction of the moratorium in 1992 the possibilities to boost export of scattering mines, estimated at USD100 mln per year, had been lost.

The USA is the only large producer of controlled mines that submitted official information on its export volume.

However, the data submitted by the US National Defence Assistanse Agency and the US Army Department for Armament, Ammunition and Chemical Protection do not coincide, because the militants couldn’t even coordinate the information they released. Moreover, the data disclosed by these two sources is incomplete, since only the official data on mine export under the FMS program, excluding secret deliveries and commercial supplies effected under the State Departament’s license, were given.

Since 1969, the USA has exported not less than 4.4 mln antipersonnel mines including over 220,000 mines within a decade before a ban on export was introduced in 1992. In 1975, mine export peaked at over USD 1.4 mln; Cambodia, Chile and Iran were the key buyers then. Over the period ranging from 1969 to 1992, for which the data are available, major importers of antipersonnel mines were:














El Salvador






Saudi Arabia


Antipersonnel mines fabricated in the USA in that period were also exported to Australia, Belize, Brunei, Great Britain, Greece, Indonesia, Jordan, Canada, Columbia, Lebanon, Morocco, Ecuador, Ethiopia, South Korea, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Oman, Peru, Philippines, Singapore, Somali, Switzerland, Taiwan, and Turkey.

As Iran is concerned, practically all the deliveries were executing during the Shah regime ruling; additional mine consignment was supplied in 1988. The US Army authorities ignored an inquiry in respect of this deal details. Moreover, the FSTC’s analysts recently discovered that antipersonnel mine deliveries had been channeled at least to one country more, namely, to Malaysia. This fact wasn’t mentioned in the information submitted by the US Defense Ministry.

The second country following Iraq by the amount of the purchased mines is Israel. The total quantity of mines (almost entirely, antitank mines) delivered to Israel under the FMS’ program amounts at appr. 1.9 mln. In 1983-1992, El Salvador, Lebanon and Thailand were the major exporters of ordinary antipersonnel mines.

In 1995, the USA began exporting scattering antipersonnel mines to at least 5 countries (Greece, South Korea, the Netherlands, Taiwan, and Turkey).

Other main exporters


In Egypt, there are 10 defense plants controlled by the Ministry for Military Production; controlled mines are manufactured at least at three of them. The mines fabricated are either based on the Soviet, Italian and American designs, or their exact copies manufactured under the licenses. It’s known, that Egyptian mines have been laid in Afghanistan, Iran and Nicaragua.


Israeli Military Industries (IMI), strongly oriented at export, began producing controlled mines in 1955 or a bit earlier. First antipersonnel controlled mines were exported to South Africa in 1970.

According to the information available, Israel has recently manufactured two types of antipersonnel mines.

In the last years, Israel outputs three types of mines: two types of antipersonnel mines are fabricated at the IMI’s plant in Ramat Hagharon, and one type is produced at the Orpac EIL’s plant in Tel-Avive. Israeli mines are exported to Argentina, Guatemala, Zaire, Nigeria, Ecuador and El Salvador. England’s mine neutralization specialists determined that Argentina during the Falkland Isles War used antipersonnel controlled mines including plastic ones made by Orpac EIL and labeled “№4”.

Pakistan (State enterprise)

The company Pakistani Artillery Plants (POF) established in 1951 with the headquarter in Wah has got a reputation of the most aggressive exporter of antipersonnel controlled mines as well as artillery systems, ammunition and guns. In the company’s advertising booklets on the cheap (USD 6.75) mine P4Mk2 it’s specially stressed that the explosive substance amount was carefully designed to “badly injure a man to disable him forever”, since “studies elaborated show that it’s more advantageous to cripple a man, than to kill him”.


A group of companies called Charted Industries of Singapore (CIS) is engaged in fabricating controlled mines; the name of the group can be translated as the Privileged (working under the orders) Industries of Singapore. This is 1 of 4 defense firms, being under control of the holding company Sheng-Li which, in turn, is reported to the Singapore Defense Ministry.

Sheng-Li’s defense subsidiaries, having started their activity in 1967 with a small business, now forms a well-deployed net of companies that produce, service and market specialized products.

Offices of the trade representative of the CIS’ Unicorn company are opened in London, Dubai, Brunei. They supply 2 types of the Italian Valsella’s antipersonnel mines. The mass media call Singapore “a channel to deliver mines to Iraq”. DIA’s partly disclosed the papers containing information of the fact that Iraq possesses mines manufactured in Singapore.


Sweden, not being a major producer or exporter of mines, is a leading supplier of detonators and mine explosives. Several companies were earlier involved in production of mines and their components, but due to a series of mergers and acquisitions in the early 1990s they now entirely controlled by the Sweden company Celsious AB. This company, with previously independent Bofons, Swedish Ordance/FFV, Nobel Tech and Nobel Kemi fitted in its structure, was partly privatized by the Swedish government in mid-1993.

The most significant contribution of Sweden to the world’s mine production is explosives.

It’s a fact that only in 1981-1983 Bostons delivered 573 tons of the RDX explosives directly to the Italian Valsella and, in addition, in 1983-1987 sold to Valsella through the French company SNPE 670 tones of explosives more.

Sweden has exported antipersonnel mines since at least 1958 when Bofors sold 33,000 Mina 5 mines to Pakistan. In recent years Sweden mainly exports the FFVI3 mine developed on the base of the Claymore design; Japanese company Seisa Kushltd also fabricates this mine under the license.

There is information that Sweden exports this mine to Ireland, Norway and Switzerland.


Former Yugoslavia had firmly occupied the place of a world’s leading exporter of antipersonnel and antitank mines.

Plastic antipersonnel mines made in Yugoslavia are hard to detect and extract. Until Yugoslavia’s disintegration, all production of controlled mines was concentrated in Bosnia and Gertsegovina; mine accessories were fabricated in the other republics. The Plant of Military Electronics in Banya Luka was a developer, producer and exporter of the extremely dangerous detonators Guperquick.

Yugoslavia used to be one of the limited-number countries producing booby mines, “the goods” such as pens and portable electric lighters equipped with a firing device.

In the early stage of the military operation, the Federal Army relocated some defense industries to Serbia. Nevertheless, Croatian Muslims have at least one plant to produce detonators that are considered to being used to manufacture antipersonnel and antitank mines. Information is available that Croatia possesses significant capacities to fabricate mines.

Despite re-establishing of the mine production, the mines manufactured do not go to export; on the contrary, all the republics of the former Yugoslavia are importers receiving mines from Singapore, Eastern Europe and other countries.

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Publishing date: August 1, 2000



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