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The world's biggest miner BHP Billiton (ASX: BHP)(LSE: BLT)(NYSE: BHP) reported Tuesday its profits had plunged 58% and revenues declined 14% during the last half of 2012.
Attributable net profit including writedowns was $4.2 billion. Revenues fell to $32 billion from $37.5 billion a year before. Underlying earnings before interest and tax dropped 38% to $9.7 billion.
Substantially lower commodity prices, a weak US dollar and inflation more than offset stronger volumes and operating cost savings, BHP said in a written statement.
Despite the decreases, the company's interim dividend will increase to 57 cents a share, up 4% from 55 cents a year ago.
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In the short term, BHP said it expects the global economy to generally improve to support demand and prices for commodities. However, it expects the addition of low cost supply in many markets to dampen prices.
In iron ore, substantial new supply is expected from the low cost basins of Australia's Pilbara region and Brazil while demand growth rates are decelerating in China.
Rising coal demand is likely to be met by supply from the low cost, high quality basins, while overcapacity in the aluminium and nickel industries is likely to persist.
Copper supply in the near future is expected to balanced the market more. Although, the longer term copper price continues to be underpinned by operating and capital cost pressure plus few high-quality development opportunities.
BHP also announced Tuesday its copper division head Andrew Mackenzie will takeover from retiring chief executive Marius Kloppers on May 10.
By. Kerry Hall of mining.com
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