People walk past a board outside the Anglo American offices in Johannesburg in this file picture.

London - Anglo American said profit fell 7 percent last year and it wrote down the value of some mining assets by $1.9 billion (R21 billion) as commodity demand remained weak.

Underlying earnings slid to $2.7 billion, or $2.09 share, from $2.86 billion, or $2.28, the London-based producer of metal and minerals from Africa to Brazil said today in a statement.

The average of 17 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg was for earnings of $2.38 billion.

It posted a net loss of $961 million after a loss of $1.49 billion in 2012.

Anglo wrote off $700 million at its Barro Alto nickel unit in Brazil and $200 million at South African platinum operations.

It also recorded an impairment charge of $300 million on the Michiquillay copper project in Peru, $200 million on the Foxleigh coal mine in Australia and $300 million on the Pebble project in Alaska, which it abandoned last year.

Chief executive Mark Cutifani, who replaced Cynthia Carroll in April, plans to expand earnings before interest and tax as much as $4 billion in a plan to double return on capital to 15 percent by 2016.

He identified 15 underperforming assets and is assessing options including selling some.

“Against a backdrop of weaker growth in the world economy in 2013, particularly in the emerging and developing economies, commodity demand remained soft with a decline in average realised prices for most of the commodities Anglo American produces,” Cutifani said in the statement.

Full-year sales rose 1 percent to $33.06 billion.

Anglo will pay a total dividend of 85 cents, the same as last year.

Net debt climbed to $10.7 billion at the year-end from $8.5 billion.

Anglo American Platinum, Anglo’s Johannesburg-based platinum unit, closed shafts and cut jobs in South Africa last year as it sought to return to profit.

South Africa, where strikes have disrupted production at both Anglo’s platinum and iron ore operations, accounts for about 45 percent of the company’s revenue.

The South African rand has lost almost a quarter of its value against the dollar since the beginning of last year, helping to bolster earnings from production sold in the US currency. - Bloomberg News