ESTABLISHMENT of an underground physics laboratory in Stawell is a step closer following an information session conducted on Tuesday.
The information session, hosted by the Northern Grampians Shire Council, was organised for key stakeholders and attracted more than sixty politicians, university professors and other parties at the Stawell Entertainment Centre.
Following the session, stakeholders were invited to take a tour of the underground mine workings at Stawell Gold Mines, which will be home to the physics laboratory.
Northern Grampians Shire Mayor, Cr Murray Emerson, said the laboratory was starting to attract enormous attention from overseas.
"We've had interest from China, the Italians are coming on board and there has been interest in the laboratory from America," Cr Emerson said.
"We are certainly excited by the interest that this project is creating here in Australia and overseas."
The State Government has already committed $1.75 million for the first stage of the project and council is lobbying the federal government to match the funding. It is waiting on a decision on the Federal National Stronger Regions Fund application.
A key component of the stakeholder session on Tuesday was an address by Professor Elisabetta Barberio of the Centre of Excellence for Particle Physics. This was followed by the two-hour underground tour of the proposed site at the Stawell Gold Mine.
Cr Emerson said council and CoEPP welcomed the opportunity to discuss the project in more detail 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. This won't just be for the Northern Grampians Shire, it will be of great benefit to Australia and the world."
Cr Emerson said completion of the Stawell Underground Physics Laboratory would 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," he said.
"We are now awaiting a response from the federal government on matching the $1.75 million allocation by the state government. We believe the federal government should come on board, as this will be such an important and exciting opportunity for Australia."