BHP Billiton

Production disruptions hit BHP

Mining vehicle
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First-half profits fell 8% at the world's biggest miner BHP Group.

The company blamed the fall on production disruptions and a decline in commodity prices during the period.

Underlying profit from continuing operations for the six months ended 31 December fell to $4.03bn (£3.12bn) from $4.40bn a year ago. That was some way below analyst estimates of $4.209bn.

The company declared an interim dividend of $0.55 per share, the same as last year.

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BHP flags £465m hit on outages

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BHP has warned of a "negative impact" due to unplanned production disruptions at its copper and iron ore plants.

The world's largest miner said productivity for the second half of last year was hit by outages at Olympic Dam, Spence and Western Australia Iron Ore "with a total negative impact" of around $600m (£465m).

BHP said it would revise productivity guidance at its 19 February results briefing.

Why did the BHP train run away?

Chris Johnston

Business reporter, BBC News

A BHP Billiton train carrying iron ore in Australia
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A BHP Billiton train carrying iron ore: Not the runaway culprit

BHP Billiton has blamed brake failure for a runaway train laden with iron ore that sped through the Australian outback for almost 90 minutes earlier this month and had to be derailed remotely.

The train took off after the driver got out to make an inspection, travelling at speeds of almost 70 miles an hour in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

Following a preliminary internal investigation, BHP said the train initially stopped due to a disconnected cable controlling the braking system, but then started moving as the emergency brake was not engaged. It has not explained why the emergency brake was not on.

Derailing the four-locomotive train damaged about a mile of track but no one was injured.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau is investigating the incident.

Here's a video of the aftermath from 7 News in Perth:

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BHP to return $10.4bn to shareholders

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FTSE-listed miner BHP Billiton will return $10.4bn (£8.1bn) to shareholders through a buyback and special dividend.

Under the $5.2bn buyback programme, the firm can purchase shares at up to a 14% discount, it said in a statement.

The move is in line with an earlier pledge to hand back proceeds of the sale of its US shale business.

Miners have faced pressure to hand money back to investors following years of big project spending fuelled by the commodity boom.