NORTHERN Grampians Shire Council will host around sixty politicians, university professors and other parties for a stakeholder session on the Stawell Underground Physics Laboratory project in Stawell today.
The session will include an address from Professor Elisabetta Barberio of CoEPP and a two-hour underground tour of the proposed site at the Stawell Gold Mine.
Mayor Cr Murray Emerson said council and CoEPP were looking forward to discussing the project in more detail with attendees at the session.
"The Stawell Underground Physics Laboratory project has the potential for huge impact on a number of scales," Cr Emerson said.
"Not only is it a massive project for our community, it is breaking new ground in physics across the globe.
"Stawell Underground Physics Laboratory will see the construction of the first ever underground dark matter detection laboratory in the Southern Hemisphere, right here in Stawell. It really is quite amazing and we want to ensure that the whole community comes along with us on the SUPL journey."
Professor Jeremy Mould is one of the lead researchers on the project and is excited about where the project is heading.
"A million dark matter particles pass through each and every one of us every ten seconds, yet they are so elusive that we don't notice them. Our experiment is so sensitive that we'll be able to examine it and study how the rate of these particles change as the earth orbits the sun," Professor Mould said.
"This is an important and exciting opportunity for Australia - there are many of these experiments in the Northern Hemisphere, but none in the Southern Hemisphere - it's really pioneering work for us."
The Stawell Underground Physics Laboratory (SUPL) design is modelled on an underground physics laboratory in England (Boubly).
CoEPP have investigated the laboratory design and found it to be of the same size, site conditions, services available, experiment types and requirements and similar depth to the desired SUPL.
This laboratory was constructed in 2014 with a $3.25m budget. Allowing for a contingency of 7.5% project managers have assessed the construction budget of the Stawell laboratory to be at $3.5 million.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has already committed $1.75 from the State Government towards the project during a visit to the Stawell Gold Mines site in February.
The Premier said during his visit that the laboratory would provide a magnificent boost for Stawell in the way of job creation and future prosperity.
Mr Andrews said the $1.75 million investment in stage one of the project, would kick start the conversion of part of the gold mine so the underground facility can be established.
Council is now awaiting a response from the Federal Government to match the funding. The Federal National Stronger Regions Fund application for $1.75 million is currently being considered.
The Stawell Gold Mine is in a process of transitioning. While mining exploration, extraction and processing remains a critical industry in the region, the key challenge for council and the Stawell community is to successfully transition from reliance on mining to other industries and revenue streams.
A unique opportunity has emerged to build a physics laboratory in the underground mine which will provide transition to high tech industries, providing new employment opportunities.
The ARC Centre of Excellence for Particle Physics at the Terascale (CoEPP) requires an underground facility in the Southern Hemisphere in which it can conduct long-term scientific research projects. The laboratory will be developed to replicate an Italian laboratory conducting similar investigations.
The Stawell Gold Mine has been identified as providing a suitable site and conditions for this laboratory. It is the only site identified as suitable in Australia.
The development of the initial facility would lead to the establishment of a dedicated particle physics laboratory - the only of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere.