BHP Billiton’s net profits soared to $10.52bn, an increase of 72% in the six months ending December 2010, the firm has announced.

The rise in profits could be put down to adverse weather patterns in many producing countries such as Australia, Brazil, Colombia, South Africa and Indonesia, which led to stronger prices for supplies like coal, iron ore and copper.

BHP also revealed that it would spend about $80bn over the next five years, and buy back $10bn of shares from investors.

Major projects, including ones on iron ore and coal, are at an advanced stage of the approval process and are expected to result in a substantial increase in project capital expenditure.