VANCOUVER - In the last trading week before Christmas, the S&P TSX Venture Composite Index saw one day in the red eliminate four days of small gains and, as a result, the index finished the Dec. 17-21 trading session down 5.91 points at 1.177.71. Trading volumes remained strong until the last day of the week, when it seems many investors turned their attention from their computer screens to their Christmas trees.
The biggest gainer of the week was Orko Silver. The company shot up 52% to $2.40 on news of a takeover by First Majestic Silver. Orko shareholders are being offered 0.1202 First Majestic shares and 0.01¢ cash for each share, which values Orko at $2.72 per share and represents a 69% premium to Orko's 30-day volume-weighted average share price. First Majestic outbid another, unnamed company to secure the deal, which will add Orko's La Preciosa project to its portfolio. La Preciosa is one of the largest undeveloped silver deposits in the world and is conveniently located just 50 km from First Majestic's Mexican head office in Durango.
Afferro Mining's week was a good reminder of the market's unpredictability. On Monday, Afferro announced encouraging results from metallurgical testing for its direct shipping iron ore Nkout project in Cameroon; on Tuesday the company received $50 million from Severstal as payment for its stake in Severstal Liberia Iron Ore. Despite the good news, Afferro's share price slid gently for several days, until shooting up 24¢ or 19% on Friday to reach $1.50.
Probe Mines had an up-and-down week after releasing its latest drill results from the Borden Lake project in Ontario. Results from 25 holes expanded the deposit at depth, identified new mineralization on the hangingwall side, and confirmed continuity of known mineralization. Highlights included 29 metres grading 1.7 grams gold per tonne from 118 metres down infill hole 272 and 4 metres of 9.1 grams gold from 74 metres down hangingwall hole 288. Probe ended the week down 19¢ at $1.89.
Investors were not pleased with Avala Resources' decision to raise $10 million in a private placement. News of the 20¢ offering pushed Avala's share price from 27¢ to just 16¢ over the week. The company plans to use the funds to continue its exploration efforts at the Timok gold project in Serbia.
Avino Silver also announced access to new money over the week and got the opposite response. Instead of a dilutive, below market value financing to fund exploration, Avino entered into a $5-million credit facility with Caterpillar that will enable the company to lease the equipment it needs to advance operations at one mine and reopen another. Avino's share price gained 5% on the news to reach $1.77.
Goldquest Mining got a nice share price bounce when it released initial results from an extensive induced polarization survey at its Las Tres Palmas project in the Dominican Republic. The survey outlined several new chargeability anomalies. The anomalies sit north of the La Excandalosa outcropping gold occurrence, which is 2 km south of the Romero deposit where Goldquest recently outlined an inferred resource of 3.1 million tonnes grading 31.4 grams gold. Goldquest shares gain 10¢ in a day on the news to reach 62¢.
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