UPDATE 2-Mining giant BHP pessimistic on iron ore, coal prices in next few yrs
* BHP sees copper, oil prices recovering in medium term
* Reaffirms copper, coal, petroleum production forecasts
* Trims iron ore output forecast in wake of Brazil dam burst (Adds analyst comment, details on 2016 guidance, share price)
By Sonali Paul
MELBOURNE, Jan 20 (Reuters) - BHP Billiton flagged on Wednesday that it sees no recovery in iron ore or coal prices in the next few years, while holding out hope for a rebound in copper and oil as it fights slumping earnings set to hit its long-protected dividend.
The top global miner reinforced the bleak outlook for most commodities in the near term, with markets slammed by oversupply as the economy slows in China, the world's biggest metals consumer.
In a sign the company may cut its dividend, ending a long-held policy to maintain or raise its payout every year, BHP Chief Executive Andrew Mackenzie said in a quarterly production report that it was focused on defending its investment grade credit rating.
"In this environment, we are also committed to protecting our strong balance sheet so we have the financial flexibility to manage further volatility and take advantage of the expected recovery in copper and oil over the medium term," Mackenzie said.
He made no mention of any recovery in iron ore or coal prices. Continuación...