Mining giant BHP released record half-year earnings Tuesday, with profits up 77 percent.

The company also outpaced dividend estimates, delivering a record interim dividend to shareholders of US$1.50 for the third year running.

BHP’s Western Australia iron ore business drove the miner’s $9.4 billion attributable profit, helped along by strong prices for coking coal and copper.

Ahead of the announcement, there had been some speculation that rising costs and lower demand from China would dent the results of the big iron ore miners, including Fortescue, Rio Tinto and BHP.

The miners have also faced a labour crunch because of Western Australia’s strict Covid-19 border restrictions limiting scope for fly-in, fly-out workers.

But BHP had “a strong first half”, despite these challenges, chief executive Mike Henry said Tuesday.

“We mitigated the impacts of Covid-19 and significant adverse weather events to turn in a solid operational performance, particularly from our flagship Western Australian Iron Ore business,” he added.

The earnings announcement did not include BHP’s petroleum assets, as those are soon to be transferred to Woodside, in a deal announced in November 2021.

The merger is expected to be completed in the June quarter of this year.

BHP also used the announcement to tout its workplace credentials, citing zero fatalities during the calendar year and a workforce that is now 30 per cent women.