The Stawell Underground Physics Laboratory (SUPL) concept came into being as a result of the Stawell Gold Mines' planning for transition to closure, back in 2013-14. At that time, after more than 30 years of operation, Stawell Gold Mines believed that closure due to economic, operational and other business factors was imminent.
At its peak in 2011 Stawell Gold Mine was the largest employer in the Stawell area and contributed over $58.3 million to the local community in wages, purchased goods and services per year. As an industry sector within Northern Grampians Shire, mining represented 19.1% of gross regional product.
The unique underground environment of the Stawell Gold Mine has provided the ideal location to site the southern hemisphere’s first underground physics laboratory. Scientists from Australia’s leading universities, Stawell Gold Mines Pty Ltd and Northern Grampians Shire Council identified the opportunity to design a facility of international significance which would bring together the best of the world’s scientific minds, engineering excellence, public sector governance and support to make this high technology dream a reality.
SUPL has been developed at a depth of 1,025m underground within the existing operational Stawell Gold Mines, which is adjacent to the Stawell township in central western Victoria. The SUPL location has the required geology, depth and underground conditions needed for the operation of ultra-precise research equipment to undertake internationally significant cutting-edge particle physics and other ultra-low background scientific research.
The University of Melbourne, as the lead organisation within a national partnership, has project managed the construction of SUPL and Northern Grampians Shire Council welcomes its operationalisation.