BHP Billiton, the world's largest mining firm by market value, reported a record $6.4 billion annual loss on Tuesday, hammered by a bad bet on shale, a dam disaster in Brazil and a commodities slump.
The biggest element in the loss was one-off charges booked after the collapse of a dam at the Samarco iron ore site in Brazil in November. The site was run as a joint venture with Brazil's Vale and the dam's collapse killed 19 people. The flooding wrecked farm land and reached towns, preventing people from returning to their homes.
"I think it is worthwhile putting that loss into perspective ... most of it is due to exceptional charges that we took for the Samarco dam, for our onshore U.S. business and some tax matters," BHP Billiton CEO Andrew Mackenzie told CNBC after the company's earnings were out.
The Anglo-Australian firm said in its earnings statement that it had recognized a provision of $1.2 billion before tax and after discounting on June 30.