Iron ore helps Rio Tinto first-half profit beat estimates

The Rio Tinto logo is displayed on a visitor's helmet at a borates mine in Boron, California, U.S

Anglo-Australian miner Rio Tinto (RIO.AX) reported better-than-expected first-half profit on Wednesday, boosted by firm prices for iron ore and higher output as Chinese demand for the steel-making ingredient recovered from a coronavirus hit.

Iron ore prices have remained resilient this year on the back of China’s infrastructure development push and concerns over a supply shortfall from Brazil, helping miners like Rio weather through disruptions in mining other commodities.

Underlying earnings from iron ore, which typically accounts for about 80% of Rio’s earnings, gained 1% to $4.56 billion (3.53 billion pounds) in the half-year, and shipments rose 3%.

Total underlying earnings for the six months ended June 30 fell to $4.75 billion from $4.93 billion a year earlier, but handily beat a consensus of $4.36 billion from 16 analysts compiled by Vuma.

Rio said it took a $1 billion impairment charge for the period, largely related to four of its aluminium smelters and its Diavik diamond mine in Canada.

The world’s largest iron ore miner declared an interim dividend of $1.55 per share, up from $1.51 last year, and stuck to its 2020 production forecast for all its commodities.

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