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(Reuters) - Shares of Thompson Creek Metals Co Inc TC.N TCM.TO rose more than 12 percent on Thursday after the miner reported better-than-expected adjusted earnings and as strong economic data out of China lifted commodities stocks.
The Denver-based molybdenum miner said late on Wednesday that its Mt. Milligan copper and gold project in British Columbia, a crucial part of its push to diversify its business by producing other metals, is set to start up in the next several days.
"The company is on the verge of a significant earnings and free cash flow ramp," said BB&T Capital Markets analyst Garrett Nelson, referring to Mt. Milligan. "I think investors that are short are all hitting the cover button in unison."
Nelson said better-than-expected costs drove the earnings beat. He also noted that smaller, more leveraged miners like Thompson Creek were benefiting more than their better-capitalized peers from the data out of China.
China's exports rose 5.1 percent in July from a year earlier, while imports jumped 10.9 percent, much more than expected. China is a major consumer of most raw materials, and its fortunes have a big impact on mining stocks.
Separately on Thursday, Thompson Creek said it had chosen Jacques Perron, chief executive of junior gold miner St Andrew Goldfields Ltd SAS.TO, as its next CEO. Its current chief executive, Kevin Loughrey, said last fall he would retire once a successor was found.
Shares were up 12.5 percent at $3.23 on the New York Stock Exchange late on Thursday afternoon.
Thompson Creek slightly increased its estimate of the capital spending needed to construct and develop Mt. Milligan, to C$1.57 billion ($1.51 billion) from C$1.50 billion. It has already spent all but C$160 million of that figure.
Loughrey said the project, which like many mines built in recent years was plagued by cost overruns during construction, still makes sense despite recent declines in the price of gold.
"It's still a profitable project for us, a very profitable project at these numbers or at lower numbers," he said in an interview.
Net loss for the second quarter to June 30 widened to $19.2 million, or 11 cents a share, from a loss of $14.8 million, or 9 cents, a year earlier. Revenue rose to $117.8 million from $113.5 million.
Excluding noncash foreign exchange losses and a related tax benefit, adjusted earnings were $13.8 million, or 8 cents a share, compared with a loss of $10.6 million, or 6 cents, a year earlier.
Analysts, on average, had been expecting earnings of 1 cent a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
($1 = $1.04 Canadian)
Reporting by Allison Martell in Toronto; editing by Matthew Lewis