BHP's Kalgoorlie nickel smelter shut down after fire

MELBOURNE, Sept 24 (Reuters) – BHP Billiton said on Monday its Kalgoorlie nickel smelter has been closed after a fire that broke out over the weekend and the plant will remain shut while it assesses the damage.

The fire had been put out, there were no injuries and efforts would focus on returning the plant to normal operations, the global miner said.

"People have returned to work at the Kalgoorlie Smelter today and the team is working on the recovery of safe operations," a BHP spokesman told Reuters.

"The plant remains shut down and we are assessing what damage has been sustained."

The smelter is part of BHP's Nickel West operations, which produced 91,000 tonnes of nickel during the 2018 financial year.

BHP is transitioning its nickel business towards producing nickel sulphate ahead of an expected demand boom from the electric vehicle battery industry and is building the world's largest battery-grade nickel sulphate plant near Perth.

(By Melanie Burton; Editing by Richard Pullin)