BHP raised its interim dividend 38% to $0.55 from $0.40 despite its net profit for the six months to end-December declining 25% — mainly due to a $1.8bn exceptional item to account for the US’s new tax laws."Higher commodity prices and a solid operating performance delivered free cash flow of $4.9bn," CEO Andrew Mackenzie said in the results statement. "We used this cash to further reduce net debt and increase returns to shareholders through higher dividends."The world’s largest miner grew its interim revenue 16% to $21.8bn, boosted by a 52% surge in copper sales to $6.4bn from $4.2bn in the matching period.BHP said its copper division benefited from both higher prices and improved production at its Escondida mine in Chile.Iron ore contributed a third of the group’s revenue. This division’s sales grew 4.2% to $7.2bn.Its iron ore joint-venture in Brazil, Samarco, has been closed since a dam disaster in 2015. Tuesday’s results included a $210m loss in relation to Samarco, which includ...

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