RTZ accelerates to £922m on 22% rise in metals

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The Independent Online

A 22 per cent rise in metal prices underpinned a record performance in 1994 for RTZ, the world's largest mining group, with pre-tax profits more than doubling to a record £922m from £435m.

Excluding exceptional charges and gains, underlying profits rose 40 per cent to £915m (£652m) on sales up 8 per cent to £3.9bn. RTZ said that although metal prices rose above 1993's low levels they were still 33 per cent below their spring tide in 1988.

Robert Wilson, chief executive, said non-ferrous metal price increases significantly affected the profits advance, but that iron ore and coal prices both fell. He believed worldwide economic recovery had yet to peak, and growth this year would outstrip 1994.

"The speed at which the major European economies moved out of recession and the continuing strong growth in North America and Asia Pacific, led to rising demand which was swollen by financial investment activity on the metal exchanges."

Copper and gold contributed net profits of £314m, well up on the £166m in 1993. World consumption of copper rose 7 per cent, but production by less than 1 per cent, leading to average price rises of 21 per cent.

RTZ's iron ore profits fell to £76m (£91m) in tightening markets. Coal and uranium also fell back, but aluminium performed strongly, boosting profits to £42m (£16m) following a 9 per cent increase in demand.

Overall, the company's mining and metals operations lifted profits 48 per cent to £517m before exploration and interest charges. Industrial minerals boosted earnings 17 per cent to £158m. Sir Derek Birkin, chairman, said prices in 1995 for products such as industrial minerals, iron ore and internationally traded coal, would rise.

Total dividends for the year, including the foreign income dividend RTZ has introduced, rise 34 per cent to 27.5p (20.5p).