Write-downs and impairments dragged BHP Billiton into a loss of US $6.39 billion for the year ending June, down from a profit of US $1.9 billion the year before.
The Anglo-Australian mining giant, which was already a victim of the commodity price downturn, said underlying profit of US $1.2 billion was devastated by US $7.7 billion of exceptional items, including a write-down of US $4.9 billion on US shale assets and costs of US $2.2 billion related to the Samarco dam collapse in Brazil.
Acknowledging that it had been a tough year for the company and the rest of the resources sector, chief executive Andrew Mackenzie managed to strike an upbeat chord, pointing to robust free cash flow despite weak commodity prices.
“Our results demonstrate the resilience of our portfolio and the diverse ways in which we can create value for shareholders despite low commodity prices,” he said.
A headline loss per share of 16.3 US cents was recorded, down from a profit per share of 128.7 cents last time.
Noting free cash flow of US $3.4 billion, the board declared a final dividend of 14 US cents a share, which is covered by the free cash flow. This brings the total dividend for the year to 30 US cents, a three-quarter reduction on last year’s 124 US cents.
“In accordance with the group’s dividend policy, this comprises the minimum payout of 8 US cents per share and an additional amount of 6 U.S. cents per share, reflecting continued balance sheet strength and strong free cash flow during the period,” the company said.
BHP Billiton said good progress was being made on community resettlement and health, as well as restoration of the environment at Samarco, where the collapse of a tailings dam in November caused the deaths of 19 people and Brazil’s worst environmental disaster.
– African News Agency (ANA)