UPDATE 3-BHP delays $14 bln Canada potash push as profit drops

Tue Aug 20, 2013 11:17am EDT
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* H2 profit down 15 pct to $6.12 bln, misses forecasts

* Final dividend 59 cents v 60 cents consensus

* To invest $2.6 bln to progress Jansen potash project

* BHP says aims to sell stakes in Jansen

By Sonali Paul and Clara Ferreira-Marques

MELBOURNE/LONDON, Aug 20 (Reuters) - Miner BHP Billiton mapped out a cautious approach to expanding into potash on Tuesday, keeping a $14 billion Canadian project alive but delaying production at the giant deposit until at least 2020.

In its first set of results under new Chief Executive Andrew Mackenzie, BHP outlined its plan to keep options open alongside a 15 percent drop in half-year profit. The world's largest miner missed forecasts largely due to Australian mining tax adjustments and other non-operational items.

BHP and Glencore Xstrata wrapped up the results season for the world's big five miners, with BHP holding up slightly better than its peers as it stepped up output of iron ore, copper, coal and oil and slashed $2.7 billion in costs in the face of sliding commodity prices.

Major miners have come under pressure to rein in spending, sell off underperforming assets and tackle debt after years of rampant spending on new mines and acquisitions as prices rose.   Continued...