File picture: Reuters

Johannesburg - BHP Billiton, the world’s largest diversified miner, announced on Tuesday that attributable profit for the year to June had fallen by 86.2 percent to $1.9 billion (R25 billion) in the latest confirmation, if any were required, of the dire state of the global commodities market.

“The global economy grew at a modest rate in the 2015 financial year with a mild improvement in developed economies offsetting a moderation in emerging markets.

“In the short- to medium-term, we expect moderate growth of the global economy. In the longer term, urbanisation and industrialisation will remain the primary drivers of commodity demand,” the company said in a statement.

The company followed the growing trend of highlighting its safety record, saying that “the health and safety of our people is our first priority” but noting that after a fatality free 2014 financial year the company had five fatalities this year.

Underlying earnings before interest and tax came in 46 percent lower at $11.9 billion, with the company saying its underlying earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of $21.9 billion and earnings margin of 50 percent demonstrated “the quality of our portfolio and its resilience in challenging markets”.

Headline earnings per share plunged from 257.5 US cents to 128.7 US cents.

Capital and exploration expenditure decreased by 24 percent to $11 billion during the period and is expected to decline to $8.5 billion in the 2016 financial year and $7 billion in the 2017 financial year.

The dividend for the year was up .,5 percent at 124 US cents, in line with what the board describes as a progressive dividend policy.