A cashed-up Rio Tinto has handed shareholders $US7.2 billion ($9.7 billion) back after bailing out of Australian coal-mining operations.
The dual-listed Anglo-Australian mining giant unveiled a half-year profit of $US4.4 billion ($5.9 billion).
While the result was slightly down on expectations, it will pay out a record first-half dividend of $US1.27 a share, which represent about half of the company’s underlying earnings.
It also topped up its buy-back program by another $US1 billion ($1.4 billion).
Around $4.3 billion of the capital return came from mining operations, while $5.4 billion was generated by selling assets, mainly Australian coal mines.
Rio announced it had offloaded its remaining Queensland coal mines for just under $4 billion.
The Swiss giant Glencore bought Rio’s stake in the Hail Creek coal mine and Valeria coal development project for $1.7 billion, and joined with a private equity group and an Indonesian coal miner to buy the Kestrel underground coal mine for $2.25 billion.
Rio said it expected to pay around $1 billion in tax on the transaction.
More to come.