Mining powerhouse Rio Tinto has reported a net loss of $US2.99 billion ($2.9 billion) – the first in its history – dragged down by well-flagged impairments against its aluminium and Mozambique coal assets.
After one-offs, Rio’s operating profit exceeded expectations, reporting underlying earnings of $US9.3 billion ($9 billion) in 2012, above the consensus of analyst estimates of $US9.1 billion.
Rio lifted its annual dividend to $US1.67 a share, up 15 per cent on the previous year, including a 94.5 cent final dividend, up from 91 cents a year earlier.
The miner said the 2012 underlying financial results, down significantly on the $US15.5 billion reported in 2011, reflected record iron ore production and shipments and a second half recovery in copper volumes.
Rio’s new chief executive Sam Walsh said the company’s long-held strategy of investing in and operating large, long-life, low-cost mines and businesses would maximise returns for shareholders in a volatile economic environment.
The large Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold mine in Mongolia now was due to come into first commercial production by the end of June 2013. Discussions with the Government of Mongolia regarding the continuing implementation of the Investment Agreement are ongoing.