Rio Tinto announces full-year ordinary dividend of $6.2 billion (382 US cents per share), including record final ordinary dividend of $3.7 billion (231 US cents per share), resulting in total cash returns of $7.2 billion (443 US cents per share)
• Strong safety performance in 2019, with no fatalities and a slightly improved all injury frequency rate, coming from a strong base. Continued improvement in prevention of catastrophic events through a step-change in process safety management.
• $14.9 billion operating cash flow was 26% higher than 2018 and $9.2 billion free cash flow was 31% higher than 2018. Both are presented after $0.9 billion tax paid in 2019 relating to the 2018 coking coal disposals.
• $5.5 billion capital expenditure was consistent with 2018. In late 2019, we announced the approval of two further investments, at Greater Tom Price (iron ore, $0.8 billion) and Kennecott (copper, $1.5 billion).
• $21.2 billion underlying EBITDA was 17% above 2018, primarily driven by higher iron ore prices, with an underlying EBITDA margin of 47%.
• $10.4 billion underlying earnings were 18% above 2018. Taking exclusions into account, net earnings of $8.0 billion were 41% lower than 2018, mainly reflecting $1.7 billion of impairments in 2019, primarily the Oyu Tolgoi underground project, consistent with our 2019 interim results, and the Yarwun alumina refinery. This compared with $4.0 billion of gains on disposals in 2018.
• Strong balance sheet with net debt of $3.7 billion, a rise of $3.9 billion, mainly reflected $11.9 billion of cash returns to shareholders in 2019 through dividends and share buy-backs, and a $1.2 billion non-cash increase from the implementation of IFRS 16 "Leases", partly offset by free cash flow of $9.2 billion.