VANCOUVER — The S&P TSX Venture Composite Index capped off another uneventful week during the March 11-15 trading period, falling just 0.7 of a point or 0.06% before closing at 1,117.15 points. The Index gained ground later in the week on the back of rising commodity prices and a strong job report in the U.S., though discussion of further instability in the European Union put a damper on market enthusiasm.
Eurostat reported modest wage growth in February, with inflation dropping to its lowest level in nearly three years at 1.8%. Eurozone officials also extended a timeline on Portugal’s debt targets and began discussing a bailout plan for the tiny nation of Cyprus, which is struggling to prevent a default in its banking sector.
Gold futures had a bounce-back week with April contracts for bullion jumping US$13.20 or 0.8% before closing out at US$1590.90 per oz., while crude oil was also on the rise as April contracts increased US$1.89, or 2%, to US$93.58 per barrel. Copper remained relatively flat, with May contracts for the red metal inching up US1.2¢ to US$3.52 per lb.
Shares of Vancouver-based junior North Arrow Minerals rose during the week — gaining 2¢ before closing at 22¢ per share — after the company announced on March 14 that it had acquired options to earn an interest in three diamond projects from Stornoway Diamond Corp. Upon closing of the assignment, North Arrow will have options to earn an 80% interest in each of the Qilalugaq, Pikoo and Timiskaming diamond properties.
Qilalugaq is a 71-sq.km land package located near the community of Repulse Bay, Nunavut, while Pikoo is a 33-sq.km project roughly 140 sq.km east of La Ronge, Saskatchewan. Timiskaming is a 39-sq.km property lying in the Ville Marie region of northeastern Ontario and northwestern Quebec.
North Arrow announced a $3 million private placement in conjunction with its agreement, under which the company issued 20 million shares at a price of 15¢ per share. North Arrow is currently working on its Lac de Gras joint venture with Harry Winston Diamond Mines, which lies 290 km northeast of Yellowknife.
Alberta-based Olivut Resources is another diamond explorer that enjoyed a solid week, as the company jumped 13¢ before closing at 59¢ per share.
On March 12 Olivut announced what it called an "innovative" financing worth $18 million via a tranched placement of securities to the Canadian Special Opportunity Fund, which is managed by The Lind Partners, a New York-based asset management firm. Lind will invest $500,000 on the initial cash advance date and roughly $200,000 every month over the following 35 months.
Olivut will supplement a cash position totalling approximately $1 million, and fund exploration at its 142-sq.km HOAM diamond project south of Great Bear Lake in the southwestern part of the Northwest Territories. The company was forced to reduce its drill program in 2012 due to financial restrictions, and ended up punching 11 holes at HOAM to test nine geophysical targets.
Shares of Northern Vertex Mining dropped 15¢ during the week en route to a 75¢ close. The company released an amended resource estimate on its Moss Mine gold-silver project — located 8 miles from Bullhead City, Arizona — on March 12 after it was forced to withdraw its initial report in mid-February due to a modeling error.
The company's new estimate totals 22.6 million measured-and-indicated tonnes grading 0.74 gram gold per tonne and 8 grams silver per tonne for 537,000 oz. contained gold and 5.8 million oz. contained silver at a 0.3 gram gold cut-off grade. The modelling correction resulted in nearly a 50% reduction in global gold equivalent ounces.
Northern Vertex is aiming for commercial production at Moss by 2014 under a three-stage mine development, and is hoping to have a preliminary economic assessment completed for its initial two phases in the second quarter.
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