As previously announced1, Rio Tinto has discovered copper-gold mineralisation at the Winu project in the Yeneena Basin of the Paterson Province in Western Australia. This release provides new data on fourteen diamond drill holes and twenty-eight reverse circulation (RC) drill holes completed since the last report.
Significant intercepts for the forty-two drill holes are set out in Table 1 below. Results continue to indicate relatively wide intersections of vein style copper mineralisation associated with gold and silver beneath relatively shallow cover. The mineralisation remains open at depth and to the east, north, and south, with a currently defined strike length of approximately 2.1km. Drillhole details are included in Appendix 1.
Drilling is ongoing with eight diamond rigs and three RC rigs drilling at Winu and further results will be reported in the first quarter of 2020. RC and diamond drilling is continuing, with RC drilling primarily focussed on defining the extent and tenor of the supergene zone and diamond drilling continuing to test the extents of the deposit.
Rio Tinto continues to conduct cultural heritage surveys through strong engagement with the Traditional Owners. Preliminary technical studies have commenced on the project including environmental baseline studies, geotechnical and metallurgical testwork. Construction of a gravel airstrip is near completion. In addition to the ongoing work at Winu, Rio Tinto is conducting exploration within the broader Paterson Province on its wholly owned licences and joint venture licences during 2019.
While results continue to be encouraging, the exploration project is still at an early stage and drilling to date does not allow sufficient understanding of the mineralised body to assess the potential size or quality of the mineralisation nor to enable estimation of a Mineral Resource. The assessment and interpretation of existing data is ongoing and is being used to help guide drilling for the remainder of 2019.
1 “Rio Tinto Exploration Update – copper-gold mineralisation discovered in the Paterson Province in the far east Pilbara region of Western Australia” released to ASX on 27 February 2019, and “Rio Tinto Exploration Update – Winu Project”, released to ASX on 6 June 2019.
Rio Tinto announces returns to shareholders of $3.5 billion including interim dividend of $2.5 billion and special dividend of $1.0 billion.
Rio Tinto chief executive J-S Jacques said “We have delivered strong financial results with underlying EBITDA of $10.3 billion and EBITDA margin of 47%. Our financial performance was driven by our Pilbara operations with a 72% EBITDA margin, underpinned by strong iron ore prices.
“We are taking actions to protect the Pilbara Blend and optimise performance across our iron ore system, following the operational challenges which emerged in the first half.
“Our world-class portfolio and strong balance sheet serve us well in all market conditions. This, together with our disciplined capital allocation, underpins our ability to continue to invest in our business and deliver superior returns to shareholders in the short, medium and long term. Our delivery is in evidence today, with our record interim returns of $3.5 billion.”
Sustained improvement in safety performance, with the All Injury Frequency Rate continuing to decline, a reduction in the severity rate and fewer process safety incidents.
Underlying EBITDA3 of $10.3 billion (excluding the contribution from the coking coal assets divested in 2018), was 19% above 2018 first half, with an EBITDA margin7 of 47%.
Operating cash flow of $6.4 billion is presented net of $0.9 billion of tax paid in 2019 first half relating to the 2018 coking coal disposals.
Free cash flow2 of $3.9 billion was 35% higher than 2018 first half.
Cash returns of $3.5 billion announced today, comprising record interim ordinary dividend of $2.5 billion, equivalent to 151 US cents per share, and special dividend of $1.0 billion, equivalent to 61 US cents per share.
$4.9 billion underlying earnings3, 12% higher due to a strong contribution from Iron Ore.
Following our update on the Oyu Tolgoi underground project on 16 July 2019, we completed an impairment assessment and concluded that the changes to project cost and schedule led to an impairment charge, net of tax and non-controlling interests, of $0.8 billion. The impairment is reflected in net earnings of $4.1 billion9.
Record 23% Return on Capital Employed6, a rise of four percentage points on 2018.
Strong balance sheet with net debt5 of $4.9 billion, mainly reflects $7.8 billion of cash returns to shareholders paid in 2019 first half, partly offset by free cash flow.
Six months to 30 June 2019 2018 Change
Net cash generated from operating activities (US$ millions)* 6,389 5,228 22 %
Capital expenditure1 (US$ millions) 2,391 2,363 1 %
Free cash flow2 (US$ millions) 3,879 2,883 35 %
Underlying EBITDA3 (US$ millions) 10,250 9,198 11 %
Underlying earnings3 (US$ millions) 4,932 4,416 12 %
Net earnings (US$ millions) 4,130 4,380 (6 )%
Underlying earnings 3 per share (US cents) 301.5 253.6 19 %
Basic earnings per share (US cents) 252.5 251.6 -
Ordinary dividend per share (US cents) 151.0 127.0 19 %
At 30 June 2019 At 31 Dec 2018
Net (debt)/cash4 (US$ millions) (4,855 ) 255
Net gearing ratio5 10% (1 )%
Return on Capital Employed (ROCE)6 23% 19 %
1 Capital expenditure is presented gross, before taking into account any cash received from disposals of property, plant and equipment (PP&E).
The following financial performance indicators - which are non-GAAP measures - are those management uses internally to assess performance. They are therefore considered relevant to readers of this document. They are presented here to give more clarity around the underlying business performance of the Group’s operations.
2 Free cash flow is defined as net cash generated from operating activities less purchases of PP&E less lease principal payments plus sales of PP&E.
3 Net and underlying earnings relate to profit attributable to the owners of Rio Tinto. Underlying EBITDA and earnings are defined on
page 13. Underlying earnings is reconciled to net earnings on page 72.
4 Net cash / debt is defined and reconciled to the balance sheet on page 49.
5 Net gearing ratio is defined as net debt divided by the sum of net debt and total equity at the end of each period.
6 Return on Capital Employed (ROCE) is defined as annualised underlying earnings excluding net interest divided by average capital employed (operating assets before net debt).
7 EBITDA margin is defined as Group underlying EBITDA divided by Product Group total revenues.
8 Mine-to-market productivity improvements refer to the additional free cash flow generated from post-tax operating cash cost improvements and post-tax volume gains from productivity programmes.
9 Refer to page 44 for pre-tax analysis of impairment charge.
10 Refer to market release on 16 July 2019 "Update on Oyu Tolgoi underground project".
11 For full details, see the Notice to the ASX dated 1 August 2019 (“Rio Tinto Exploration Update - Winu project”) and accompanying information provided in accordance with the Table 1 checklist in The Australasian Code for the Reporting of Exploration Results, Mineral Resources and Ore Reserves (The JORC Code, 2012 Edition). These materials are also available on riotinto.com.
A comprehensive list of presentation documents is available in Results & reports.