It was a painful week for investors in junior resource stocks with plunging oil and gold prices dragging the broader index lower. The TSX Ventures Exchange, home to the most speculative resources stocks, lost ground for the third straight week falling just over 4 percent.
Crew Gold looked to leap-frog into mid-tier gold production status by acquiring Guinor Gold for $328 million in cash or C$1.50 per Guinor share. Guinor holds an 85% stake in the LEFA Corridor gold project in Guinea, where production is slated to grow to 300,000 ounces per year by 2007. Crew currently produces 100,000 ounces per year from its 82% held Nalunaq mine in Greenland. The combined company would have some 2.5 million ounces of gold reserves and another 7.4 million ounces of gold resources. Crew ended the week at C$1.55, down C$0.15, while Guinor dropped C$0.06 to close at C$1.39.
Long time Philippine explorer Mindoro Resources reported that the second drill hole on its Pica porphyry copper-gold prospect in the Philippines returned 213 metres grading 0.18% copper, 0.30 grams gold per tonne gold and 1.91 grams silver per tonne. Included in this section was a higher-grade portion running 0.24% copper, 0.99 grams gold and 5.67 grams silver per tonne over 40 .9 metres. Not bad at all, and results are still pending from the bottom of the hole. Mindoro added C$0.22 on the week to C$0.75.
The legal battle between IMA exploration and Aquiline Resources had a quiet second week. Aquiline clearly won the battle of the speculators last week but this week’s outcome seemed to be a draw. At stake is title to the very promising Navidad silver project in Argentina. IMA ended the week down C$0.05 to C$2.86 and Aquiline lost C$0.35 to close at C$1.85.
Uranium plays continued to attract investor interest with Standard Uranium eying near-term production by acquiring both uranium resources and the Hobson ISL plant in Texas. The plant last operated in 1988 and Standard Uranium aims to increase the plant’s annual production capacity to 1 million pounds, with initial production coming in conservatively in the 800,000 lbs a year range. Standard Uranium added C$0.09 on the week to close at C$1.29.
Solitaire Minerals is looking to Alberta for uranium having inked a deal with Sandswamp Exploration to purchase 4 mineral permits dubbed the Ravenscrag uranium property. These southern Alberta sandstone-hosted uranium area was explored in the 1970s to early 1980s with very minimal success. Solitaire ended the week up C$0.02 at C$0.11 on very heavy volume.
David Bell-led Silk Road Resources had a good week as the company reported that hole 1 on the Laerma property in China’s Gansu Province returned 134 metres grading 2.97 g/t gold from the surface, including 6.71 g/t gold from surface to 43 metres. Silk Road ended the week up C$0.12 to C$0.75.
A late Friday rally in the major gold stocks helped Canada’s largest gold miner, Barrick Gold end the week up C$0.29 at C$32, but Placer Dome lost C$0.03 to C$19.15 and Kinross, armed with restated earnings, closed out the week up down C$0.43 to C$8.05.
Looking ahead the markets are looking very volatile with the price of gold gyrating in the mid to high $460 range. With both the junior and senior gold stocks tracking the price of bullion closely the direction of the market may well follow the price of gold. Time will tell.
Looking for leverage to rising prices for copper and gold? Check out Continental Minerals and its Xietongman gold-copper property in Tibet.