- Rio Tinto said it would pay a special dividend of $1bn after posting an 11% increase in underlying earnings (EBITDA) in the first half of the year as higher iron ore prices offset lower volumes and higher costs.

Underlying EBITDA climbed to $10.250bn in the six months to 30 June while consolidated sales revenue of $20.7bn was 9% higher than 2018's first half, excluding the $0.8bn contribution from the coking coal assets divested in 2018.

The company said it would return a total of $3.5bn to shareholders, with an interim dividend of $2.5bn, as well as the $1bn special dividend.

Looking forward, the company said it expected the run-rate from its mine-to-market programme to be around $0.5bn, despite weather impacts. This reflected operational challenges experienced in its Pilbara operations, which reduced its 2019 first-half run-rate to $0.2bn.

It said it now expected its mine-to-market productivity programme to deliver an additional free cash flow run-rate of $1.0-1.5bn (previously $1.5bn) from 2021, assuming an increase in iron ore volumes and that raw materials prices revert to those seen in 2017 when the programme began.

It left its production guidance for 2019 unchanged from its second-quarter review.

At 8:07am: [LON:RIO] Rio Tinto PLC share price was -78p at 4620p

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