BHP reports surge in profits
BHP Billiton, the world's biggest mining company, reported a 71pc jump in half-year profits to $10.5bn (€7.8bn) today as it mapped out plans for a major investment programme over the next five years.
The group failed with a takeover bid for fertiliser maker Potash last year but now looks to be focused on organic growth after pledging at least $80bn (€59.1bn) for projects in the period to 2015.
The Melbourne-based company's strong balance sheet should also enable it to return $10bn (€7.4bn) to shareholders this year.
It has benefited from strong demand from emerging markets such as China and tight supply for its key commodities, which has pushed prices higher.
The company said it was cautiously optimistic about the short-term outlook for the global economy: "While we expect a slowdown in the growth rate of global commodity demand in calendar year 2011, the economic environment still underpins a robust near term outlook for our products."
BHP, which employs 41,000 people and has operations in 25 countries, launched a hostile bid for Canada's Potash in August after directors of the company refused to back its offer. It was forced to walk away when its proposal was also blocked by the Canadian government.
BHP is a market leader in the production of coal, copper and iron ore and wanted to snap up the group as it believed demand for agricultural fertiliser ingredients will rise as the developing world requires more meat and plants.