BHP signals move away from smut as profits dwindle

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Sydney (AFP)

Mining giant BHP said its profits fell 4% in the year ending June, with the Anglo-Australian company reporting on Tuesday a transition away from the hugely polluting thermal coal market.

The company reported annual net profit of just under $ 8 billion, up from $ 8.3 billion the year before.

Newly installed managing director Mike Henry noted a “year of challenges” linked to civil unrest in Chile – the world’s largest producer of copper – and the coronavirus pandemic.

Henry also predicted a rocky path ahead.

“We expect most of the major economies to contract sharply in 2020 with China being the exception,” he said.

The company also confirmed a long-standing abandonment of the coal market for electricity.

“To further improve our portfolio in terms of value, risk and return, we intend to focus our coal portfolio on higher quality coking coals,” the company said in a statement.

BHP added that it was “looking for options to exit” from two thermal coal projects in Australia and one in Colombia.

Coking coal is mainly used to make iron and steel and has not been the main focus of efforts to reduce the effects of climate change.

BHP’s operational greenhouse gas emissions increased again.

Rivals Rio Tinto and Anglo-American have announced similar abandonments of thermal coal.

Henry, a long-time employee, was hired to take over the top job as of January 1, 2020.

A Canadian, he joined the global resource company in 2003 and has led its mining operations in Australia since 2016.

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