Rio Tinto is buying back $4 billion of debt

Rio Tinto is accelerating its attack on debt.

The big miner is diving back into the bond market to buy back $US3 billion ($A4 billion) of its US dollar notes, as part of its strategy to survive in a low commodity price world.

“Rio Tinto is continuing to use its strong liquidity position to reduce gross debt,” the said.

The move follows the successful completion of cash tender offers in April to purchase $1.5 billion of its 2017 and 2018 notes.

The miner’s profitability is being crushed by falling commodity prices.

The latest full-year underlying earnings were cut almost in half to $US4.54 billion. In February, the company posted a full-year net loss of $US866 million compared to net earnings the previous year of around $US6.5 billion.

Last month Rio said it was cutting dividends by as much as half, reducing costs by another $2 billion and removing $US3 billion of capital expenditure on top of previous guidance.

Rio Tinto has taken more than $6 billion of costs out of the business since 2013. Last year it maintained its shareholder payout at 215 US cents but the company has since decided to abandon its progressive dividend policy.

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