HIGHLANDS Pacific has suspended operations at the Ramu Nickel process plant as a result of an investigation into the recent fatality of a plant worker.

Highlands reported that a fatality had occurred at the plant on 12 April.

A Chinese worker was killed and two PNG national employees injured when a high pressure steam supply line ruptured at the nickel refinery, the company said.

Highlands advised the length of the investigation, which is being conducted by the PNG Mineral Resources Authority and the Mines Inspectorate, remains uncertain.

Highlands holds an 8.56 per cent interest in the Ramu joint venture, which is majority owned and operated by Chinese group Metallurgical Corporation of China (MCC).

Highlands said after the incident the two PNG workers were transported to hospital for treatment.

MCC immediately halted operations at the plant, which remains on care and maintenance.

One of the injured workers has since been released from hospital, and the other is recovering, Highlands said.

It is expected the plant shut down will effect nickel production in the current year, however the extent of the impact will not be known until the length of the shut down is clarified and any required rectification work is completed, Highlands said.

Ramu is located at Basamuk near Madang in Papua New Guinea.