Rio Tinto posts record annual profit amid poor workplace culture findings

Rio Tinto announced yesterday its best ever annual profit and a record full-year dividend of US$16.8 billion, having been boosted by higher iron ore prices and strong demand for all of its products.

The Anglo-Australian mining giant reported a 72% year-on-year rise in underlying earnings to $21.38 billion for the year ending December 2021, in light of a recovering global economy and increasing demand from top consumer China.

However, the stellar results come against a backdrop of reputational damage after Rio published findings from an external report that revealed a poor workplace culture typified by sexual harassment, bullying and racism.

The company is also reeling after Serbia shut down its $2.4 billion Jadar lithium project amid environmental concerns. On the positive side, Rio did manage to resolve a long-running dispute with the Mongolian government regarding an expansion to the massive Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold mine.

After the announcement, chief executive Jakob Stausholm told reporters: “Our balance sheet is the strongest it’s been for at least 15 years…We have become more humble and better listeners, both internally and externally,” he said later.

Rio’s final special dividend of 62 cents a share and final dividend of $4.17, pushed its total 2021 dividend to a record $10.40 a share.