Rio Tinto declares $9.1 billion in dividends as first-half earnings more than double

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The Rio Tinto logo is displayed on a visitor’s helmet at a borates mine in Boron, California, U.S., November 15, 2019. REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon/File Photo

(Reuters) -Rio Tinto said on Wednesday first-half underlying earnings more than doubled due to a surge in iron ore prices on strong demand from China, prompting the global miner to return $9.1 billion in dividends.

A massive infrastructure push by China, the world’s top iron ore consumer, and supply issues in Brazil helped prices of the commodity scale record highs earlier this year. [IRONORE/]

Rio, the world’s top producer of iron ore, said average realised price for the commodity nearly doubled to $168.4 per dry metric tonne free on board from the same period a year earlier.

That surge in prices helped drive the miner’s underlying earnings to $12.17 billion from $4.75 billion a year earlier. It beat a consensus of $12.01 billion from 14 analysts compiled by Vuma.

The company declared a special dividend of $1.85 per share, and an interim dividend of $3.76 per share, compared with last year’s total payout of $1.55 for the first half.

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