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Mining giant Rio Tinto half-year net profit almost doubles

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Mining giant Rio Tinto Wednesday reported a 93 per cent jump in first-half net profit on the back of rising commodity prices as it returned a bumper US$3 billion to shareholders.

[SYDNEY] Mining giant Rio Tinto Wednesday reported a 93 per cent jump in first-half net profit on the back of rising commodity prices as it returned a bumper US$3 billion to shareholders.

The Anglo-Australian firm said net profit was US$3.31 billion in the six months to June 30, compared to US$1.71 billion in the same period last year.

Underlying profit, the measure preferred by Rio, jumped 152 per cent to US$3.94 billion, narrowly missing analysts' estimates.

"These are strong results," chief executive Jean-Sebastien Jacques said in a statement.

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"Today we have announced total cash returns to shareholders of $3 billion. By driving performance, focusing on cash and allocating it with discipline we are delivering superior cash returns to our shareholders."

As tipped by analysts, Rio declared a large interim dividend payout of 110 US cents, totalling US$2.0 billion, compared to 45 US cents for the corresponding period last year.

The company also announced an increased buy-back of US$1.0 billion in its London-listed shares by the end of the year, which are in addition to a US$500 million buy-back programme declared in February.

The miner is expected to come into more cash when the sale of most of its Australian coal assets to China-backed Yancoal for US$2.45 billion is completed.

Rio, like other miners, has benefited from the rebound in prices of its main commodity iron ore after a slump brought on by a supply glut and a slowdown in growth in the world's top commodities consumer China.

Shares in Rio closed 0.17 per cent down to A$65.84 ahead of the result.

AFP

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