Wednesday 27 February 2019 11:45 pm

Mining giant Rio Tinto rewards investors with $4bn special dividend after better-than-expected results for 2018

Rio Tinto announced a $4bn (£3bn) special dividend to shareholders yesterday in the light of positive results for 2018, which were ahead of market expectations.

The news brings Rio’s total shareholder payout for 2018 to a record $13.5bn. Underlying profits rose two per cent year on year to $8.8bn. The Anglo-Australian mining giant also announced net revenue up from $40bn in 2017 to $40.5bn in 2018. Net debt fell steeply from $3.84bn in 2017 to a surplus of $255m in 2018.

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In London, Rio shares rose 0.89pc on the news. Citi analyst Heath Jansen told the Financial Times: “We expect the market to take additional shareholder returns as positive.”

In 2018, Rio Tinto benefited from disposal proceeds of $8.6bn.

The miner shed a large number of assets, selling its stake in the Grasberg copper mine, Europe’s leading aluminium smelter and a major port in Canada.

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Rio also got rid of its coal interests in a move which made it the only fossil-free mining corporation.

The special dividend, which amounts to $2.43 a share, was funded by the asset sales. A final dividend of $1.80 a share was also issued, taking the windfall from Rio’s standard dividends in 2018 to $3.07 a share.