BHP announced robust earnings and free cash flow generation despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic for the financial year ended 30 June 2020. Attributable profit of US$8.0 billion and underlying attributable profit of US$9.1 billion were broadly in line with the prior year. 

Profit from operations was US$14.4 billion for the year, and underlying EBITDA was US$22.1 billion at a margin of 53%, with unit costs reduced by 9% at BHP’s major assets due to foreign exchange, better productivity and improved operating stability.

“BHP delivered a strong set of results for the 2020 financial year that reflect the strength, resilience and quality of our people and our portfolio. In a year marked by the challenges of the global COVID-19 pandemic, social unrest in Chile and commodity price volatility, we were safer, more reliable and lower cost,” said Mike Henry, BHP chief executive officer.

He continued: “BHP’s operations generated robust free cash flow and our balance sheet remained strong, with net debt finishing the year at the low end of our target range. We have announced a final dividend of 55 U.S. cents per share, bringing shareholder returns to US$6.1 billion for the full year.

“Our workforce operated with purpose, focus, speed and decisiveness, and I am proud of their achievements. We are grateful for the ongoing support of our communities, Traditional Owners, governments and business partners. In line with our commitment to social value, we have in turn sought to support them through this difficult period by creating 1,500 jobs, making early payments to small, regional and indigenous suppliers and contributing more than US$75 million to community, health and social programs.

“We expect most major economies will contract heavily in 2020, China being the exception. Recovery will vary considerably by country. Our diversified portfolio and high-quality assets position us to continue to generate returns in the face of near-term uncertainty, even as we secure and create the options in future-facing commodities that will allow us to sustainably grow value in the long-term,” Mr Henry said.

The company’s six major projects under development are progressing well and are in line with its strategy. The company continues to advance its exploration programs in petroleum, copper and nickel, with results of the third phase of the drilling program completed at the Oak Dam copper discovery in South Australia currently under analysis.

BHP has also added to the early stage optionality in nickel with the acquisition of the Honeymoon Well tenements in Western Australia.

“We are moving to concentrate our coal portfolio on high-quality coking coals, with greatest potential upside for quality premiums as steel makers seek to improve blast furnace utilisation and reduce emissions intensity,” said Mr Henry.

“Our products are essential for the world and the future. I am confident our portfolio and approach will continue to support attractive value and returns for decades to come,” he concluded.