BHP makes gargantuan loss

BHP has recorded a loss of US$6.235 billion year on year, a 434 per cent decline from its position last year.

The miner saw revenues fall 31 per cent year on year down to US$30.9 billion.

Last year BHP recorded a profit of US$4.39 billion.

It saw the largest hit in petroleum, recording a loss of US$7.721 billion, the majority of this from ‘exceptional items’ which accounted for US$7.184 billion.

Coal also dragged BHP down, with the miner noting a US$349 million loss.

Copper and iron ore were the major performers of the group, which helped buoy the operator, with BHP recording a profit of US$1.042 billion across its copper operations and US$1.352 billion iron ore.

BHP CEO Andrew Mackenzie acknowledged the difficult year the miner has faced.

“The last 12 months have been challenging for both BHP and the resources industry,” Mackenzie said.

However, he forecast a positive year ahead for the company, as it continues to focus on productivity measures and drives down operational costs.

“Unit cash costs across the group declined 16 per cent and with increased capital efficiency, supported free cash flow generation of US$3.4 billion despite weaker commodity prices,” he said.

“Next year we expect another US41.8 billion of productivity gains as our new Operating Model helps sustain momentum, delivering more than US$7 billion of free cash flow based on current spot prices and a forecast reduction in net debt.”

Mackenzie expects growth rates of four per cent next year – excluding its US oil and gas assets – adding, “Over the past five years we have actively reshaped our portfolio, and we are confident we have the right mix of commodities, assets and opportunities to create substantial value over time”.

In the miner’s end of year statements, it reiterated Mackenzie’s positivity.

“While we remain confident in the outlook for our commodities, our capital allocation framework and strong balance sheet provide us with the flexibility and financial strength to pursue a diverse range of opportunities to create shareholder value even without significant recovery in prices,” BHP said.

It forecast the aforementioned new Operating Model delivering savings of US$1.8 billion in productivity gains and increasing free cash flow.

Overall, the miner delivered EBITDA of US$12.3 billion (compared to US$21.852 billion YoY), and an underlying EBTIDA margin of 41 per cent, despite the fall in major commodity prices which wiped US$10.7 billion in earnings from the company.

Productivity gains have played a major role in lessening the blow for BHP, as it drives down operational costs.

Across its West Australian Iron Ore assets and Queensland coal mines, BHP cut unit cash costs by 19 per cent and 15 per cent respectively, and forecasts another 7 per cent drop in costs in WA and 6 per cent across QLD coal next year.

Unlike other majors Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals, BHP has not made moves to pay down its existing debt levels, which are significantly lower than FMG, and remain relatively unchanged at US$26.1 billion, although it expects net debt to decline in the next financial year.

However, there was one bright light for the miner, with no fatalities recorded for the financial year.

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