Global miner Rio Tinto said on Wednesday it will pay a bigger-than-expected annual dividend of $1.70 per share on the back of a strong recovery in mineral commodities markets in 2016 and cost-cutting.
Underlying earnings for the world's second-biggest mining house rose by 12 percent to $5.1 billion, beating analysts' estimates for around $4.87 billion, according to an externally compiled consensus.
The result marks a turnaround from 2015, when the world's No. 2 miner posted its worst underlying earnings in 11 years and scrapped its generous payout policy amid tumbling commodity prices.
"We enter 2017 in good shape. Our team will deliver $5 billion of extra free cash flow over the next five years from our productivity program," Chief Executive Jean-Sebastien Jacques said in a statement.