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Kaz Minerals copper miner declares dividend, first half earnings rise

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Kaz Minerals copper miner declares dividend, first half earnings rise

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LONDON (Reuters) - Kaz Minerals <KAZ.L> copper miner on Thursday announced an interim dividend of 6 U.S. cents per share, the first since 2012, in keeping with a growing trend for miners to focus on shareholder returns.

Kaz Minerals shares plunged early this month after the Kazakhstan-focused miner said it was expanding into Russia with a deal to buy a copper project in Baimskaya from a group of investors including Chelsea soccer club owner Roman Abramovich.

On Thursday, it said first half earnings before interest tax depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) were $690 million versus $505 million a year ago, citing higher sales volumes and competitive costs.

Operating profit rose to $464 million from $291 million (£228.67 million) and copper output grew by 18 percent.

The dividend is the first since Kaz Minerals ramped up new mines in Kazakhstan and the first since the commodity boom, which was followed by a crash around 2015-16.

All the miners have been dragged down again in recent weeks as trade tensions between the United States and China have weighed on markets and doubts have mounted about Chinese demand.

Copper prices <CMCU3> this week hit their lowest levels for more than a year.

Analysts said Kaz Minerals' results were strong. In a note Goldman Sachs said the dividend was a surprise, especially after the acquisition of the Baimskaya project and it expected the shares to outperform on Thursday.

(Reporting by Barbara Lewis, editing by David Evans)

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