BHP last year shelved $ 40bn in projects and shut some loss-making coal mines, as the industry battled with soaring costs, a strong Aussie dollar and sliding commodity prices.
In further moves to protect its margins, it said on Wednesday it had cut $ 944m in costs over the past half year.
Profit before one-off items slid to $ 5.68bn for July-December 2012 from $ 10bn a year earlier. The result was in line with analysts’ average forecast for a profit of $ 5.69bn.
Net profit fell to $ 4.2bn, with the aluminium and nickel writedowns offset by gains from the sales of its Richards Bay minerals stake, its Browse gas stake, its diamonds business and Yeelirie uranium deposit.
BHP raised its interim dividend by 3.6pc to 57 cents, also in line with analysts’ forecasts, Reuters reported.
Rival Rio Tinto last week reported its first ever full-year loss after taking $ 14.4bn in writedowns on its aluminium business and Mozambican coal assets, but appeased investors with a surprise 15pc rise in its annual dividend.