The world's top iron ore producer BHP Billiton on Tuesday posted a 6.4-billion-dollar loss for 2015-16, the first full-year statutory loss in the history of the Anglo-Australian company.

The results were due to a 31-per-cent fall in revenue to 30.1 billion, as well as a multibillion-dollar writedown in the value of some of its assets, the company said.

Last year the firm, created by a merger in 2001, made a profit of 1.9 billion dollars. Its best annual result was profits of 23.6 billion dollars in 2010-11.

"The last 12 months have been challenging for both BHP Billiton and the resources industry," chief executive Andrew Mackenzie said.

"While commodity prices are expected to remain low and volatile in the short to medium term, we are confident in the long-term outlook for our commodities, particularly oil and copper."

BHP Billiton, headquartered in Melbourne, was formed after a merger between Australia's Broken Hill Proprietary Co. Ltd. and London-listed Billiton Plc.

It declared a final dividend of 14 cents a share, down from 62 US cents a year ago, but in line with its new dividend policy of paying a minimum 50 per cent of underlying profit of around one billion dollars.

The company's shares closed up 0.5 per cent at 20.25 dollars on the Australian market ahead of the results release.

Mackenzie said the appetite of Chinese steel mills to build iron ore inventories "will remain low in the near term due to the availability of port stocks," which could affect the coming years.

The company saw a 7.2-billion-dollar writedown in the value of its US shale assets earlier this year due to a massive decrease in oil prices. 

It is also going to make a provision of up to 1.3 billion dollars for the costs of the Bento Rodrigues dam disaster in Brazil that killed at least 17 people and destroyed 200 homes.

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