Rio Tinto CEO: China aiming for resource security

Reuters and CNBC.com
Mining earth's resources: Rio Tinto CEO

Global miner Rio Tinto reported a 45 percent jump in second-half profit on Thursday, beating market forecasts thanks to sharp cost-cutting, lower capital spending and production growth.

The world number two miner surprised the market with a 15 percent increase in its annual dividend in a show of confidence in its cashflow growth, which may herald a big capital return to shareholders later this year or in 2015.

(Read more: Why mining stocks could gain from EM sell-off)

Chief Executive Sam Walsh, who took the reins a year ago, told CNBC he was committed to further cost cutting.

"There is further (cost cutting) ahead of us... We have just got started," Walsh said in an exclusive interview on Thursday.

Underlying earnings for the six months to December 31 rose to $5.99 billion from $4.12 billion a year earlier, based on Reuters calculations off the full-year result, and compared with analysts' forecasts of around $5.49 billion.

Rio's Australian shares have fallen 3.7 percent over the past year, underperforming a 6 percent rise in the broader market, as investors shunned miners on fears of cooling growth in China and an expected slump in iron ore prices. However the stock touched an 11-month high on Thursday ahead of the result.

"I think China will try and ensure it achieves resource security. They are looking at the same things in relation to food, water, and certainly, air purity," Walsh said.

He added that Rio Tinto would benefit as emerging market countries continued to develop.

"You can't build infrastructure, you can't urbanize, without the commodities we supply," Walsh said.

Reuters contributed to this story