BHP Billiton sees a dive in profits

BHP Billiton has delayed its planned $20bn (£13bn) Olympic Dam copper expansion and said no major projects would be approved in the year to June 2013, as it battles escalating capital costs.

The global miner reported a 35 per cent slide in second-half profit to $7.16bn and its first fall in annual profit in three years in the face of falling commodity prices as China's economic growth cools. This wrapped up a torrid earnings season for the world's biggest miners.

Big miners have all been battered by weaker prices for iron ore, copper, coal, nickel and aluminium as economic growth in big-buyer China slows to what is expected to be its weakest pace in more than a decade.

Expanding Olympic Dam, the world's fourth-largest copper deposit and largest uranium source, was one of three mega projects that were due to go to the BHP board for final approval by December 2012 in an $80bn pipeline of projects.