Rio Tinto pushed into loss by asset write-downs

A train loaded with iron ore travels towards the Rio Tinto Parker Point iron ore in western Australia
Image caption Record iron ore production did not prevent Rio Tinto making a big loss in 2012

Anglo-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto has reported a big full-year loss after writing down the value of its coal and aluminium businesses.

The company made a $3bn (£1.93bn; 2.24bn euros) net loss for the year to 31 December 2012, compared with a $5.83bn profit the year before.

In January, Tom Albanese resigned as chief executive after the company had to take a $14.4bn hit on the value of poorly-performing acquisitions in 2012.

He has been replaced by Sam Walsh.

In a statement, Mr Walsh said the company would have "an unrelenting focus on pursuing greater value for shareholders" under his leadership, and would aim to make cumulative cash cost savings of $5bn by 2014.

"Looking ahead, we see the positive momentum in the fourth quarter of last year being sustained into 2013 with Chinese GDP growth returning to above 8% in 2013", he said.

"We expect market uncertainty and price volatility to persist as long as the structural issues in Europe and the United States remain unresolved."

Record iron ore production and shipments contributed to underlying earnings of $9.3bn, enabling the company to increase its full-year dividend by 15% to 167 cents a share.

Andrew Harding has replaced Sam Walsh as iron ore chief executive, while Jean-Sebastien Jacques is taking over as chief executive of the copper division.

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