A dark matter laboratory will be built one kilometre underground, within the Stawell Gold Mine, as part of a multi-million-dollar investment from the Victorian and Federal Governments.
The Stawell Underground Physics Laboratory received $5 million from the State Government to support construction.
The project is expected to deliver up to $180.2 million in economic value to the region in its first ten years and support almost 80 ongoing jobs.
Almost all of the laboratory’s construction and fit out will be sourced locally from Stawell and Western Victoria, with 15 full time jobs to be created during the first phase of work for Geotechnical engineers, earthmoving equipment operators, electrical tradespeople and transport operators.
The lab aims to provide ultra-low background research facilities needed for the search for dark matter. The Victorian Government aims to put Stawell on the world’s particle physics map, helping Victoria attract and retain world class scientists and boost the region’s economy.
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Victorian Regional Development Minister, Jaclyn Symes, said the underground physics lab would position Victoria as a leader in dark matter research and bring local job opportunities to the region.
“With nearly 80 ongoing jobs connected to the lab, this project will diversify Stawell’s economy – attracting a new highly-skilled workforce to the region to live and work.”
It will also provide educational benefits, with its counterpart project in Italy attracting around 8000 students each year.
The Federal Government will provide the rest of the funding required to construct the lab, which will be 30 metres long, 10 metres wide and 10 metres high.
The project is a collaboration between six university partners, led by the University of Melbourne. Other project partners include Swinburne University of Technology, the University of Adelaide, the Australian National University, the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation and the Italian National Institute for Nuclear Physics.
“The investment by both the State and Federal Governments will ensure the lab is large enough to host dark matter experiments as well as everything from fundamental cancer research into how radiation affects cells growing, to creating new ultra-sensitive detectors and novel geological exploration techniques,” University of Melbourne project leader, Elisabetta Barberio, said.