Rio Tinto Yarwun is just one of the global resources company’s operation in Central Queensland.
Rio Tinto Yarwun is just one of the global resources company’s operation in Central Queensland.

Rio Tinto releases 2020 dividend after ‘a challenging year’

Global resources giant Rio Tinto has released its 2020 shareholder dividend details after what the company described as ‘a challenging year’.

The company, which generated $15.9 billion USD ($20.5 billion AUD) from operating activities, employs more than 3000 people in Central Queensland.

The figure, six per cent higher than 2019, was primarily driven by higher iron ore prices and stability in operating performance.

Rio Tinto chief executive Jakob Stausholm said the company board had approved a total dividend of 557 US cents per share including a special dividend of 93 US cents per share.

Rio Tinto chief executive Jakob Stausholm during the Rio Tinto AGM at the Westin Hotel in Perth.
Rio Tinto chief executive Jakob Stausholm during the Rio Tinto AGM at the Westin Hotel in Perth.

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The 2020 performance resulted in $12.4 billion ($16 billion AUD) in underlying earnings, 20 per cent above its 2019 figure, when the dividend was 443 US cents per share.

Mr Stausholm said this represented a 72 per cent full year payout ratio, which built on the company’s five-year payout track record.

“It has been an extraordinary year – our successful response to the COVID-19 pandemic and strong safety performance were overshadowed by the tragic events at the Juukan Gorge, which should never have happened,” Mr Stausholm.

“During 2020, the agility and resilience of the business and our employees, coupled with strong commodity prices, enabled us to deliver underlying EBITDA of $23.9 billion and Return on Capital Employed of 27 per cent.”

Mr Stausholm said his new executive team and wider leadership of the company were all committed to unleashing Rio Tinto’s full potential.

“We will increase our focus on operational excellence and project development and strengthen our ESG credentials,” he said.

“Working closely with the board, we must earn the right to become a trusted partner for Traditional Owners, host communities, governments and other stakeholders but we all recognise that this will require sustained and consistent effort.

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Rio Tinto Yarwun General Manager Mark Gilmore.
Rio Tinto Yarwun General Manager Mark Gilmore.

“Safe and well-run operations, together with world-class assets, great people, capital discipline and a strong balance sheet, leave Rio Tinto well placed to generate superior returns for shareholders, invest in sustaining and growing our portfolio, and make a broader contribution to society.”

A strong balance sheet resulted in company debt reducing by $3 billion last year.

Rio Tinto also enjoyed a strong safety performance in 2020, fatality-free for a second year in a row, with the all injury frequency rate improving to 0.37.

However, fatigue and other pressures from COVID-19 have heightened the safety risk in day-to-day operations and Rio recognises that there is no room for complacency.

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