Construction is set to begin on the Stawell Underground Physics Laboratory (SUPL), which will establish the city as a regional centre for scientific excellence.

The building site, which is being constructed more than one kilometre underground in an existing gold mine, will create 19 construction jobs and 15 full time jobs.

The project is modelled on the Gran Sasso Underground Physics Laboratory in Italy which employs 200 particle physicists and hosts a visiting scientific community to 200 international physicists every year.

The Stawell laboratory – the first of its kind in the southern hemisphere – will be used to conduct research into a wide range of sensitive physics and biomedical experiments, including research into 'dark matter'.

It capitalises on existing infrastructure and creates an innovative new use for the gold mine that will create high value, skilled research jobs.

The project is supported by the Northern Grampians Shire Council, the University of Melbourne, the Australian Research Council's Centre of Excellence in Particle Physics, and the mine owner and operator, Crocodile Mining.

The laboratory will bring together international research agencies and boost the reputation of Stawell and Victoria within the international scientific community.

The State Government of Victoria is investing A$1.75 million in Stage 1 of the project, matched with A$1.75 million from the Commonwealth through the National Stronger Regions Fund.

Funding for the project is being provided through the A$500 million Regional Jobs and infrastructure Fund (RJIF), which supports development initiatives across regional and rural Victoria.