TSX zeros in on 12,000-mark

The TSX Composite Index added 214.1 points to end the Jan. 24-30 report period at another record close of 11,947.47. The gold index recovered from last period’s stumble, plus some, adding 9.58 points to reach a new high of 285.5. Not surprisingly, that advance was accompanied by a US$10.50-per-oz. increase in the price of gold to US$565 in the afternoon in London on Jan 30. Palladium, unchanged at US$276 per oz., was the lone precious metal not to post a gain. Likewise, lead was alone in the red among the base metals.

Record-high copper prices helped Equinox Minerals finish atop the TSX most-active-miners list, with more than 33.4 million shares making their way 28 higher to $1.34. Equinox expects its Lumwana copper project in Zambia to begin producing at an initial rate of 188,000 tonnes per year over the first five years, starting in 2007.

Also enjoying the red metal’s glow were: European Minerals, advancing 37, or 45% to $1.35; African Copper, up 24 to $1.94; First Quantum Minerals, plus $6.00 to $43.70; quarry Adastra Minerals, which added 35 to make $2.70; Constellation Copper, gaining 16 to end at $2.15; Nuinsco Resources, 7 higher at 30; and Aur Resources, which added $1.06 to hit $15.25. Switching to warrants, those of Peru Copper jumped 73% to $1.28, while Rio Narcea Gold Mines‘ rose 54% to 30.

European Minerals recently dropped financially troubled construction contractor MDM Ferroman from its Varvarinskoye copper-gold project in Kazakhstan. The mine had been slated to begin producing 145,000 oz. gold and 18.4 million lbs. copper annually by year-end. African Copper shares have enjoyed high-grade copper values from the advanced Dukwe and Matsitama projects in Botswana. Dukwe is to begin producing in 2007. Nuinsco says drilling has confirmed a large porphyry copper system at its Berta project in northeastern Turkey, where it is partnered with Falconbridge. Falco gained $2.70 to hit $37.50.

Sticking with Falco, the company’s impending takeover by nickel giant Inco crept closer to reality after it won approval from Canadian antitrust authorities. Similar approval is required in Europe and the U.S. Inco’s $12-billion bid expires on Feb. 28. It would beget the world’s largest nickel producer. Inco finished $5.81 better at $57.21.

Steelmaker Dofasco remained heavily traded as its takeover saga continued. Netherlands-based Mittal Steel has launched a hostile bid for Arcelor, which is domiciled in Luxembourg. The bid comes after Arcelor trumped ThyssenKrupp in a costly bidding war for Hamilton’s Dofasco. If successful, Mittal plans to flip Dofasco to ThyssenKrupp. Dofasco fell $1.46 to $70.40.

Scandinavian Gold was another hot performer, jumping $1.00, or 57%, to $2.75. The company recently boosted its resource estimate for the Keivitsa nickel-copper deposit in Finland. The deposit is described as one of the world’s major undeveloped sulphide nickel deposits. A prefeasibility study is slated for March 2006. The company also plans to change its name to Scandinavian Minerals.

Uranium explorer Paladin Resources was unusually busy, jumping 56, or 23%, to $3.01 on nearly 22 million shares. The company recently inked a pair of sales contracts covering 1,916 tonnes of uranium from its Langer Heinrich project in Namibia. Production is expected to crank up in September.


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