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BHP Billiton back to black

Published:Tuesday | August 22, 2017 | 12:00 AM

Anglo-Australian miner, BHP Billiton, on Tuesday reported a return to black with a US$6.7-billion annual profit a year after the company's worst-ever full-year result and said it wants to sell its United States shale oil assets.

The Melbourne, Australia based-company's turnaround from the US$6.4 billion loss for the year through June 2016 was built on high prices for iron ore and coal build on Chinese industrial demand. That result was hit by a US$4.9 billion write-down in the value of BHP's US shale oil assets plus a costly dam disaster in Brazil.

"We have determined that our onshore US assets are non-core and we are actively pursuing options to exit these assets for value," BHP said in a statement.

"In the meantime, we will complete well trials, acreage swaps and assess midstream solutions to increase the value, profitability and marketability of our acreage," BHP added.

Another performance measure, earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation - or EBITDA - rose to US$20.3 billion in the latest fiscal year from US$12.3 billion a year earlier.

The company's net debt fell US$10 billion to US$16.3 billion.

Capital and exploration expendi-ture fell by 32 per cent to US$5.2 billion.

BHP shares rose more than 1 per cent to 26.04 Australian dollars (US$20.67) in early trading on the Australian market after the results were announced. BHP will pay a dividend of 43 cents a share.




BHP chief executive Andrew Mackenzie described the result as a "very strong" financial year.

"This strong momentum will be carried into the 2018 financial year, with volume growth of 7 per cent and further productivity gains expected," Mackenzie said in a statement. "Our relentless focus on cash flow, capital discipline and value creation should allow us to significantly increase our return on capital by the 2022 financial year."

A dam failure in November 2015 at an iron ore mine co-owned by BHP and Vale in Brazil killed 19 people and caused the worst environmental disaster in the country's history.

The Samarco dam failure cost BHP US$381 million in the latest fiscal year, down from US$2.2 billion in the previous year.