Investors went bargain hunting this past week as the Canadian markets posted their first winning week of 2007. When all was said and done, the TSX Venture Composite Index, Canada’s most speculative exploration bourse, ended the week with a 0.9% gain.
It did not take long for politics to play a role in the pricing of resource stock in 2007. Leading the charge was Bolivia’s mines minister Guillermo Dalence, who reportedly plans to raise the taxes paid by mining companies six-fold in a shake-up of the industry because of the weakness of Bolivia’s mineral export tax.
Last year, left leaning President Evo Morales nationalized the country’s energy industry fuelling speculation that the mining industry could be next. Apogee Minerals, which has all its exploration assets in Bolivia, ended the week at C$0.64 for a C$0.12 loss, while diversified miner Coeur d’Alene Mines closed at C$5.20, down only C$0.02.
Not to be left out, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez once again sent foreign investors running for cover by selecting the country’s electricity companies and its largest telecommunications firm as targets for nationalization. Biggest hit was would-be Las Cristinas gold developer Crystallex International, which ended the week down C$0.65 to close at C$3.80.
The bidding war for bcMetals is starting to heat up. Imperial Metals and Taseko Mines are both vying for the hand of bcMetals and its flagship assets the Red Chris copper-gold deposit in northern British Columbia. Taseko upped its bid by a nickel to C$1.15 for each bcMetals share, compared to Imperial Metals’ recently raised bid of C$1.125 per share. Imperial already holds a 17.2% equity stake in bcMetals, while Taseko holds nearly 5%. Red Chris hosts proven and probable reserves of 277.8 million tonnes grading 0.35% copper and 0.27 gram gold per tonne, plus an additional measured, indicated and inferred resources outside the pit shell of 574.8 million tonnes at 0.32% copper and 0.28 gram gold. Its fit with either Imperial, which runs the Mount Polley copper-gold mine in British Columbia or Taseko, which runs the Gibraltar mine in British Columbia, is enviable. Imperial ended the week with a C$0.45 gain to close at C$10.88, while Taseko added C$0.09 to close at C$2.91 and bcMetals added C$0.06 to end the week at C$1.16.
Victoria Resource put a smile on the faces of shareholders after releasing results from its Cove-McCoy project in north-central Nevada. Hole NW-1 cut 38.4-metres grading 10.95 grams gold per tonne, including a 10.4 metres section running 22 grams gold per tonne. Victoria ended the week up C$0.32 at C$0.97.
Not to be outdone, Serengeti Resources reported a drill intercept of 0.69% copper and 0.54 grams gold per tonne over 111 metres at its Kwanika property in north-central British Columbia. Serengeti then wasting little time by announcing a C$5 million financing. Serengati ended the week at C$0.99, up C$0.42 on just over 6 million shares changing hands.
Northern Peru Copper continued to prove that its Galeno project in Peru has the goods. A prefeasibility study envisions production of about 144,000 tonnes (317 million lbs.) of copper-in-concentrate annually over a 20.4-year mine-life, yielding 82,300 oz. gold, 2 million oz. silver and 2,300 tonnes of molybdenum-in-concentrate per year. Gold production in the first eight years is anticipated to average around 103,000 oz. per annum. A net present value of $560 million after tax has been assigned in the study using an 8% discount rate. The after tax internal rate of return comes in at 18.2% and initial capital expenditures ring in at $975.6 million. Northern Peru ended the week up C$0.72 at C$6.52.
It was an up and down week for sxr Uranium One. Investors sent the stock sharply lower early in the week as Rio Tinto Energy America pulled the plug on its proposed sale of the Sweetwater uranium mill and related properties in the United States to sxr. Citing significant and unexpected changes in the world-wide market for uranium since the July 7, 2006 exclusivity agreement between the parties relating to these assets, Rio Tinto figures it best hold onto the assets. Sxr bounced back later in the week following the announcement that it signed supply contracts for 3.2 million pounds of uranium between 2008 and 2012 from its Dominion project in South Africa. When the trying week was over, Sxr was down only C$0.18 to close at C$14.30.
Linear Metals rallied after reporting a 270.7 metre intercept grading 1% copper and 23.2 grams silver per tonne at its Cobre Grande project in Mexico. Linear ended the week up C$0.32 at C$1.60.
Onto the why did they halt the stock front? Oromonte Resources halted trading of its shares pending news late last week. Speculation was that it was drill results pending, however the news was merely the acquisition of 900 hectares of mining concessions some 27 km west of Aurelian Resource’s Fruta del Norte discovery in Ecuador. The new project, Chimbuza, contains a 6 metre wide gold bearing structure, where sampling has returned up to 3.04 grams gold per tonne. Interesting but hardly worthy of a trading halt, still Oromonte ended the week up C$0.05 at C$0.54.
Stronger than expected December retail data out of the United States in unison with increasing political risk abroad may entice investors to put their speculative dollars into plays located closer to home. A trend worth watching but only time will tell, so stay tuned.