Antofagasta to pay $1bn extra to shareholders

CHILE-FOCUSED miner Antofagasta revealed a huge special dividend of almost $1bn (£619m) yesterday to share last year’s rewards from booming copper prices and increased production.

The firm said pre-tax profit rose 79 per cent to $2.5bn, boosted by an 18 per cent rise in copper production.

However, the results missed some forecasts once one-off gains were stripped out, largely due to higher energy costs at the firm’s mines.

The $1 per share special dividend means the company will pay shareholders 109 per cent of its net earnings for the year.

“We feel confident about having the dividend,” said chief executive Marcelo Awad in a call with analysts. “It underlines the increased production and confidence in the future prospects of the market and the group.”

The firm has set aside $95m for fresh exploration – slightly down on last year. “Capital expenditure will be lower compared to the last few years and we felt it was appropriate to make a larger return of cash for the year,” said Awad.

The firm’s new Esperanza copper project produced its first shipment in January, Awad said.