VANCOUVER — The S&P TSX Venture Composite Index closed out another week with relatively little overall movement during the March 4-8 period, falling just 0.2% or 2.24 points before trading settled at 1,117.85 points. Despite unexpectedly strong job reports from Canada and the U.S., the Venture continues to grapple with volatile commodity prices and a weaker Canadian dollar.
On the jobs front Statistics Canada revealed the economy generated 50,700 jobs last month, with the bulk of the gains being full-time jobs in the private sector. Meanwhile, the U.S. Labour Department reported 236,000 new jobs in February, which dropped the U.S. unemployment rate to 7.7%. The Canadian dollar finished the week up slightly at US97.17¢.
Commodities continue to be a mixed bag, with May contracts for copper dropping around 1¢ on the week to close at US$3.51 per lb., while spot gold prices gained US$2.40 per oz. to close the week at US$1,579.20. April contracts for crude oil jumped 1.4% or US$1.28 per barrel en route to a US$91.86 weekly close.
Silver explorer Mirasol Resources dropped 24¢ — before closing the week at $1.80 per share — following the release of drill results from its wholly-owned Claudia gold-silver project in Santa Cruz, Argentina. The company completed a 25-hole, 2,600-metre reconnaissance drill campaign at its Rio Seco prospect with nine of its holes returning anomalous gold and silver assays. The bulk of the results were centred around the structural intersection of the Loma Alta trend and Rio Seco Main veins, which sit on a covered resistive geophysical anomaly called the Oculto Zone.
Highlights from Mirasol's Rio Seco drill results include: 2.14 metres grading 3.06 grams gold per tonne and 72.91 grams silver per tonne from 19 metres downhole in CRS-DH-001, 5.53 metres of 1.01 grams gold and 37.87 grams silver from 51 metres in CRS-DH-006, and 15 metres averaging 0.29 gram gold and 50.87 grams silver from 87 metres in CRS-DH-019.
Ottawa-based explorer Northern Graphite jumped 17¢ before closing at $1.17 per share following drill results from a 61-hole, 3,400-metre infill drill program at its Bissett Creek graphite project 100 km east of North Bay, Ontario. The company is working to upgrade a large inferred resource into the indicated category, as well as test for potential higher-grade zones outside its current model.
Northern Graphite's results include 58 metres of 2.75% graphitic carbon from 45 metres depth in MFT-12-005, 47 metres averaging 2.29% carbon from 42 metres in hole MFT-12-002, and 26 metres grading 2.97% carbon from 21 metres in BC-12-213.
The company intends to complete an updated resource estimate based on its drill results by the end of March, which will be followed by a modified mine plan and feasibility study that Northern Graphite hopes will carry an increased grade and longer mine life.
Quebec-focused Abitibi Royalties rose 23¢ on the week after releasing the results of a year-end gold reserve and resource estimate from producer Osisko Mining. The company closed at 80¢ per share on March 8.
Abitibi owns a 30% interest in the Malartic CHL property under a joint venture with Osisko, and holds a 2% net smelter return royalty on Osisko's Charlie-Gouldie gold deposit — which is expected to be in production by November.
The Malartic CHL property includes the Mammoth-Barnat zone, which hosts 2 million proven-and-probable tonnes grading 0.94 gram gold for 60,650 contained oz., and the Jeffrey zone, which holds 3.4 million proven-and-probable tonnes grading 0.73 gram gold for 79,249 contained oz.
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