Mining giant BHP Billiton posts $5.7 billion half year loss

SYDNEY – Mining giant BHP Billiton reported on Tuesday a half year net loss of $5.67 billion and warned that the current period of weak commodity prices would be prolonged.

The result for the six months through December 2015 was down 233 per cent from the $5.35 billion the Anglo-Australian company posted for the same period a year earlier.

Underlying profit for the latest half year fell 92 per cent to $412 million as lower commodity prices cut $7.8 billion in earnings.

The Melbourne, Australia-based company slashed its interim dividend to 16 cents per share, from 62 cents a year ago. It said it was revising its progressive dividend policy to ensure increased financial flexibility.

“While we were prepared for lower prices across our commodities, we now believe the period of weaker prices and higher volatility will be prolonged,” the miner said in a statement.

BHP reported a net profit of $1.9 billion for the 12 months to June 30, 2015. That was down from $13.8 billion a year earlier. Revenue was down 22 per cent to $52 billion.

Miners such as BHP are under increasing pressure as a slowdown in China’s economy results in lower demand for key commodities, such as iron ore and coal.