Rio Tinto to return coal sale proceeds in $US3.2 billion buyback

Rio Tinto will return the sale proceeds of its Australian coal mines to its shareholders via a share buy-back.

The $US3.2 billion ($4.4 billion) disposal proceeds come from the sales of its Australian coal assets, including Hail Creek and Valeria (pre-tax $US1.7 billion), Winchester South (pre-tax $US0.2 billion) and Kestrel (pre-tax $US2.25 billion) mines.

The share buy-back program is made up of an off-market share buy-back of up to 41.2 million Rio shares (worth around $2.7 billion) and further on-market purchases of Rio shares this year.

Rio chief executive Jean-Sébastien Jacques said, “Returning $3.2 billion of coal disposal proceeds demonstrates our commitment to capital discipline and providing sector-leading shareholder returns.

“We continue to focus our portfolio on those assets which provide the highest returns and growth, which will ensure that we continue to deliver superior value to our shareholders in the short, medium and long term.”

Rio’s existing buy-back programs, totalling $1.7 billion in shares, remain to be purchased and will be completed by February next year.

The company’s $US500 million Aluminium Dunkerque smelter sale in Northern France is yet to be completed.

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