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BHP Billiton shares fall as doubts grow over dividend policy

Nov 13 BHP Billiton shares struck a seven-year low on Friday, their weakest since the global financial crisis, on mounting concerns it may ditch a policy of paying ever higher dividends.

The world's biggest mining company has been hammered by sinking commodity prices, a situation made worse by last week's Samarco mine tragedy in Brazil, where millions of dollars in fines and penalties are beginning to emerge.

BHP stock tumbled more than 3 percent to A$19.81 in early trading, more than double the fall in the broader S&P/ASX 200 , and was on track to fall more than 11 percent for the week, it's biggest weekly fall since 2008.

BHP has been upping its dividend payout annually under a "progressive" dividend policy that's endeared the company to investors.

However, mining...