Rio Tinto posted a 90% rise in annual profit after commodity prices rose, while announcing a $1bn share buy-back and higher dividend. The mining company posted net earnings for 2017 of $8.76bn. Underlying net earnings rose by 69% to $8.63bn. Rio Tinto declared a final dividend of $1.80 per share, bringing dividends to the year to $2.90, up 71%. Rio Tinto chief executive J-S Jacques said: 'Today we have announced a strong set of results with operating cash flow of $13.9bn, a record full year dividend of $5.2bn and an additional $1bn share buy-back. This brings total cash returns to shareholders to $9.7bn declared for 2017.' 'The strength of our cash flow is a result of resilient prices during the year coupled with a robust operational performance and a focus on mine to market productivity.' 'Our strong balance sheet, world-class assets and disciplined allocation of capital puts us in the unique position of being able to invest in high-value growth through the cycle, and consistently deliver superior cash returns to shareholders.' Rio Tinto said production guidance was unchanged from its fourth quarter review. Capital expenditure in 2018 was expected to remain at around $5.5 billion in 2018 and around $6.0bn in each of 2019 and 2020. The company said it was also targeting additional cumulative free cash flow of $5.0 billion from 2017 to the end of 2021 from mine to market productivity improvements, including $0.3bn in 2018, net of $0.3bn of cost headwinds.
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