Rio Tinto profits up 113 per cent


Rio Tinto profits up 113 per cent
Miner Rio Tinto has reported record earnings for the first six months as commodity prices soar, with a 113 per cent increase compared to last year.

Net earnings for the first half reached $6.9 billion (£3.4 billion), the company said in its interim statement, attributing the growth to strong demand for raw materials in China and India.

Average copper prices have risen by 20 per cent and iron ore is up 96.5 per cent, the firm added.

Tom Albanese, Rio Tinto's chief executive, said: "Rio Tinto's earnings performance in the first half of 2008 easily eclipsed the same period in 2007, which was itself a record.

"There is no question that we are living in an era of unprecedented demand for minerals and metals, and we believe rapid demand growth and supply side challenges will be maintained."

Anglo-Australian Rio Tinto is the biggest coal mining company in the world and is currently being courted by rival BHP Billiton.

BHP Billiton made an offer valued at $147 billion for Rio Tinto last year but the board rejected this as too low. EU competition authorities are looking at the deal, Rio Tinto said.

The company said the strong results showed Rio Tinto "presents a very strong standalone value proposition for shareholders," Mr Albanese said.

Rio Tinto increased its interim dividend 31 per cent to $0.68, with a promise to increase the total 2008 and 2009 dividends by at least 20 per cent in each year.

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