Anglo-Australian miner, BHP Billiton today reported a return to black with a $6.7 billion annual profit a year after the company's worst ever full-year result and said it wants to sell its US shale oil assets. The Australia-based company's turnaround from the $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 $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 mid-stream 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 $20.3 billion in the latest fiscal year from $12.3 billion a year earlier. The company's net debt fell $10 billion to $16.3 billion. Capital and exploration expenditure fell by 32 per cent to $5.2 billion. 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," he added. BHP will pay a dividend of 43 cents a share. 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 $381 million in the latest the latest fiscal year, down from $2.2 billion in the previous year.