BHP Billiton said it said was reviewing its iron ore production guidance for fiscal 2016, following a deadly mudflow and flooding disaster at a mine in Brazil, which analysts described as a severe blow for the world's biggest miner.
At least two people died and as many as 28 are missing after a dam ruptured at the Samarco Mineração mine and unleashed floods and mud that swept as far as 100 km (60 miles) from the mine.
Samarco, a joint venture between BHP and the world's biggest iron ore miner, Vale, said it had set no date to restart the mine, which produced 29 million tonnes of iron ore last year.
BHP's share made up about 6 percent of its total iron ore output in the year to end-June 2015 and contributed about 3 percent of underlying earnings before interest and tax, although analysts said the potential liability from the disaster would be more significant for the company.
"It's probably the last thing the company needs, given it's struggling to generate earnings, it's on track to pay dividends out of debt, and then they've got this liability," said Ric Ronge, a portfolio manager at Pengana Capital. "In dollars and in terms of their ability to operate as a responsible citizen, it's very material," Ronge added, declining to put an estimate on how large the liability might be.