Rio Tinto reports a 47 percent slump in first-half profit to its weakest in 12 years. But, as David Pollard reports, the global miner also surprises the market with a higher-than-expected dividend.
It's been a downward spiral for many of the big miners for many years. But Rio Tinto says so-called 'smart purchases' are giving it foothold in new ventures. Like this copper mine in Mongolia - Rio has a major stake in it. For earnings, it is having to dig deep - they've nearly halved from 2.92 billion dollars a year ago to 1.56 billion for the six months to June. And Rio's new boss, Jean-Sébastien Jacques, says big challenges are still ahead. Analysts say that's true of the price outlook too. (SOUNDBITE) (English) NICK PARSONS, GLOBAL HEAD FX STRATEGY, NAB, SAYING: "It's going to remain volatile, and it's going to remain prone to price swings of 20 to 30 percent in relatively short time horizons. So I think volatility is the one thing that looks most certain, even as the outlook for prices looks less so." But in contrast to some peers in the sector - like Anglo-American - Rio could announce a half-year dividend. 45 cents a share beating forecasts - as did its debt reduction figures.