BHP's metallurgical coal division posted earnings of $1.2 billion, a decrease of $585 million over last year, mainly attributable to lower prices for coking coal.
Despite the lower earnings, BHP chief executive Chip Goodyear said the company had achieved record metallurgical coal annual production.
In Australia, BHP has interests in both BHPB Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) and Illawarra Coal, but said the focus of future metallurgical coal opportunities would be within Queensland's Bowen Basin.
“I think the way to look at our Bowen Basin portfolio … we've got all of the opportunities lined up, we've got to decide which one we've got to kiss first,” said Goodyear's future successor, Marius Kloppers.
“As that market matures, as we become more confident, I think we're going to execute those infrastructure and mining projects to meet that demand."
During the year, the BMA Phase 2 expansion was completed and first production was achieved at Poitrel, with record throughput also being achieved at the company's Hay Point Coal terminal.
The latest expansion of Hay Point, which will increase capacity to 44 million tonnes per annum, is currently being commissioned.
Meanwhile, the company's energy coal division reported earnings of $484 million, an increase of $157 million over last year.
“Export prices were strong and we increased production over last year," Goodyear said.
“Hunter Valley Energy Coal achieved record production and sales and performance at the Colombia and New Mexico operations was solid."
BHP continues to reshape its South African coal business, selling the Koornfontein mine during the year and announcing the end of operations at the Douglas underground mine for next year.