Rio Tinto posts best underlying earnings in four years, offloads cash

“The iron ore business is set up for the year. You can’t make changes on the fly. But we will continue to look at options on the portfolio for the year,” Trott said.

Iron ore prices have surged since last month’s deadly collapse of a dam operated by Vale in Brazil forced the world’s top iron ore miner to cut production, likely boosting earnings this year for its global rivals.

Rio maintained its iron ore output guidance at 338 million to 350 million tonnes.

Rio’s Australia-listed shares have risen 21 percent so far this year, compared with a near 15 percent jump for its larger, but more diversified, peer BHP Group. In London, Rio’s shares were up 1.3 percent.

The Vale disaster has considerably raised scrutiny of safety standards throughout the industry, in particular for tailings facilities, casting a shadow over the industry’s license to operate. Rio, which has some 100 tailings facilities across 32 sites, registered three fatalities last year.

The miner also separately released a major report into its plans to transition into a low carbon future, and Jacques made a point of underlining its Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) credentials.

“Today we are the only large mining company with no coal or oil or gas in our portfolio,” he said.

While a global move to a low carbon future lent significant risk to its iron ore business, Rio said in its report that it will focus on materials like copper and aluminium that will supply a new energy future.

Rio Tinto also separately confirmed a copper find in Western Australia.

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