TSX falls on Cyprus concerns, March 18-22

Toronto’s resource-heavy index retreated during the March 18–22 as concerns over Cyprus’ financial state dominated the week.

The S&P/TSX Composite Index fell 0.6% or 73 points to 12,757.35 as the Cypriot government struggled to find a solution to prevent a banking collapse and from leaving the euro zone. Amid the uncertainty, the spot price for gold rose US$16.20 to US$1,609.20 per oz. This helped push the S&P/TSX Global Gold Index up 3% or 7 points to 258.21.

However, the S&P/TSX Capped Diversified Metals and Mining Index slumped 5% or 50 points to 891.75 after base-metal miners Inmet Mining lost $2.69 to $69.11, Teck Resources fell $1.80 to $28.73 and First Quantum shed $1.62 to $20.12.

On Monday 25, Cyprus and its international lenders approved a last-minute €10 billion (US$13 billion) bailout plan. As part of the deal, the Mediterranean island country will close down its second largest bank, the Popular Bank of Cyprus, and impose a levy on uninsured deposits over €100,000 in the bank.

MagIndustries topped the week’s percentage gainers, climbing 32% to 19¢ after signing a framework agreement with East China Engineering Science and Technology (ECEC) to build its Mengo potash project in the Republic of the Congo. ECEC will receive roughly US$480 million for services related to engineering, planning, construction and performance. The 1.2-million-tonne-per year project is slated to be up and running by Dec. 31, 2015.

Diamond Fields International is up 25% to 5¢ after inking a joint-venture option agreement with Afri-Can Marine Minerals on its marine diamond leases in Namibia. Afri-Can and its local partner have an option to earn a 90% stake in four diamond mining leases in exchange for spending $3.3 million over two years to bring the properties back into commercial production. The company still faces a TSX delisting in April.

Duluth Metals jumped 22% to $1.97 after discovering two new areas of mineralization on the 88-sq.-km land package adjacent to its joint-venture Twin Metals project in the Duluth complex in Minnesota. The latest finds have been labelled areas 3 and 4. Area 3 contains copper-nickel-PGE mineralization, while area 4 has primarily copper mineralization. The junior has identified four new areas of mineralization since it started the first phase of exploration drilling last October. A second round of drilling is planned to start in the spring or summer.  

In a separate release, Duluth said it decided to cancel plans to take its wholly-owned subsidiary Duluth Exploration public given the tough market conditions.

Aurizon Mines was the week’s most actively traded stock after Alamos Gold dropped its hostile bid for the gold producer on March 19, leaving Aurizon with a friendly offer from Hecla Mining. Aurizon lost 5¢ to close at $4.45 on 29.8 million shares traded.


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