The loss for the year to the end of December compares with a $10.8bn pre-tax profit in 2011. Sales fell 10pc to $32.8bn.
Minas-Rio write-down was revealed last month. The project has been hit by delays and budget increases as the company faced major headaches over accessing land to build a massive pipeline to carry the iron ore mined to the coast and regulatory hurdles.
Shares in Anglo American rose 2.8pc in early trading on Friday.
Cynthia Carroll, who has resigned as chief executive , said in her final results statement that the poor performance was “a result of markedly weaker commodity prices, ongoing cost pressures and an operating loss in our platinum business”.
At the operating level profits dropped 44pc to $6.2bn, but it made a $1.49bn net loss for the year a fall of 124pc.
Coal and copper production rose but platinum output fell.
Anglo's Amplats, the world's biggest platinum producer, has been hit by rising input costs, falling prices, safety stoppages and violent labour unrest following the death of 44 people at Lonmin (LSE: LMI.L - news) 's Marikana platinum mine in clashes with police.
Amplats has struggled to make a profit and recently unveiled a controversial restructuring plan to close high-cost mines, cut around 7pc of group output, and lose 14,000 jobs.
The restructuring has been dogged with political uncertainty as Anglo American remains the largest private sector employer in South Africa, where the unemployment rate stands at 25pc. It has been delayed to allow further talks with the government and unions.
The company said the platinum industry continues to face challenging conditions.
Anglo will pay a final dividend of 53 cents a share, a rise of 15pc. This bring the total payout for the year to 85 cents.
Ms Carroll will hand over soon to Mark Cutifani.