POTENTIAL detection of dark matter at the site of the Stawell Gold Mine led to Professor Juan Collar from the University of Chicago visiting Stawell last week.
Accompanied by Professor Elisabetta Barberio and Doctor Matteo Volpi, Prof Collar met with representatives from the Northern Grampians Shire Council.
A leader in dark matter research, Prof Collar was in Australia as part of National Science Week and presented at events in Sydney, Adelaide, Perth and Melbourne.
During his trip to Stawell, Prof Collar visited the Stawell Gold Mine where The Centre of Excellence for Particle Research (CoEPP) has been undertaking preliminary tests to determine if the site could be used to detect dark matter.
Councillor Murray Emerson said Prof Collar had given council a unique insight into particle physics and future opportunities in the field.
"It was fantastic to have Prof Collar in Stawell while this exciting project is taking shape," he said.
"His research group is undertaking a project in a Canadian mine more than a mile underground. Prof Collar is also a member of a collaboration that operates a detector that sits nearly half a mile deep at the Soudan Underground Mine State Park in Minnesota.
"While our project is still in the early stages, it was invaluable to speak with Prof Collar and tap into his knowledge and experience in this area."
Cr Emerson said CoEPP had already installed a range of monitors in the Stawell Gold Mine and current measurements were being taken at 880 metres below ground level. The results of CoEPP's testing are expected later this year.
Other concepts that have been assessed as having strong investment potential at the mine site post closure include agribusiness and hydroponics opportunities, a training operation and landfill potential for the Wonga Pit.
Council is currently making initial contact with potential investors and scoping funding requirements to support possible investment in these industries.