The U.S. trade deficit hit a mind-numbing $66.1 billion for September, helping bullion to rise, while the price of crude hit four months lows. The TSX Venture Exchange, home to the most junior exploration stocks, gave back all of last week’s gains dropping 0.5% on the week.

Mergers and business combinations continued to dominate the headlines with CVRD increasing its offer for nickel laterite explorer Canico Resources. The new price is C$20.80 per share, a nice jump from the previous offer of C$16.50. The latest offer has the blessing of Canico’s board and all but locks up the deal. Canico, which holds the Onca Puma nickel laterite project located in Para State, Brazil, ended the week up C$0.56 to C$20.74.

Energy Metals and Standard Uranium have decided to team up in an effort to create a uranium company with more mass. Energy Metals aims to acquire all of the issued and outstanding shares of Standard Uranium on the basis of 0.64 Energy Metals share for every Standard Uranium share held. Of interest to Energy Metals is the agreement Standard Uranium has to acquire certain assets of Everest Exploration Inc. and Everest Resource Company, which include the existing Hobson Plant uranium recovery facility to produce uranium oxide product from the Palangana property in Texas. Standard Uranium ended the week up C$0.30 to C$1.68, while Energy Metals managed to gain C$0.04 to close at C$3.15.

All is quiet on the Placer Dome front. Barrick Gold is offering $9.2 billion in stock and cash for its gold producing counterpart. The transaction, if it comes to fruition, would make Barrick Gold the largest gold company in the world, surpassing Newmont Mining. So far, no other offers have come to the fore. The rising gold price did help both stocks with Barrick ending the week up C$1.15 to C$31.14, while Placer gained C$1.56 to close at C$24.71.

HudBay Minerals had a good week after reporting that it expects to reopen the Balmat No. 4 zinc mine in the Balmat zinc mining district of New York state. The mine has been on care and maintenance since 2001 and includes a 3,200 ft. deep shaft, underground development to five ore zones and extensive mining equipment as well as a 5,000 ton-per-day concentrator. The company also reported a 169% jump in quarterly earnings to C$23.4 million, or C$0.28 per share. Investors yawned however, as shares of Hudbay lost C$0.08 to close at C$3.94.

It was a bad week for shareholders of Grande Cache Coal. The company reported a C$10.5 million loss in the latest quarter, propelling its yearly loss to C$22.6 million. The Alberta coal producer closed out the week at C$2.07, down C$1.68.

Newmont Mining upped its stake in Shore Gold after agreeing to buy 6.84 million shares of a C$120 million financing comprising 17.15 million shares priced at C$7 each. The transaction would give Newmont a 9.9% equity stake. Shore, along with its wholly owned subsidiary Kensington Resources, holds 57.755% interest in the Fort a la Corne joint venture project. The project is adjacent to Shore’s Star Diamond project. The company ended the week up C$0.05 to C$7.34 on heavy volume.

Cardero Resources continued to climb higher as investors lay bets ahead of drill results from its iron-oxide-copper-gold Baja Mexico joint venture project. The company ended the week at C$3.85, up C$0.55.

Gold looks set to test new highs and mergers continue to dominate the market place. In this eat-or-be-eaten environment, which companies will be next? Only time will tell, so stay tuned.

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Now that he’s on the cusp of selling his Canico Resources, Explorers’ League honoree Roman Shklanka is turning focus to his new projects… including Kobex Resources. Read the complete company profile.