- Mining company Rio Tinto booked a 22% jump in annual profit after it benefited from higher iron ore prices, buoyed by Chinese demand for the key steelmaking ingredient.

The Anglo-Australian company also hiked its ordinary dividend by 21% and added a special payout to boot.

Net earnings for the year through December rose to $9.77 billion, up from $8.01 billion in 2019.

Sales revenue climbed 3% to $44.6 million and underlying earnings before interest, tax, depreciation an amortisation rose 13% to $23.9 billion.

Rio Tinto declared a full-year dividend of 464c per share, up 21% year-on-year.

It also declared a special dividend of 93c per share, brining the total payout for 2020 to 557c.

The company said a 6% increase in cash generated from operating activities was primarily driven by higher iron ore prices and stability in operating performance.

The year, however, was marred by a controversial decision to blast ancient caves in Australia that were of cultural significance to its indigenous community.

'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,' chief executive Jakob Stausholm said.

'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,' he added.

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