Venture drops 50 points in March 19-23 period

Vancouver — Three days of losses well outweighed two days of gains in the March 19 to 23 period, leaving the S&P TSX Venture Composite Index down 50.65 points at 1,555.52 points. Volume was noticeably down for the whole period, averaging only 84 million shares traded daily as concern about China’s continued growth potential weighed on markets.

The downward trend left the index with no runaway value gains, with Pacific Booker Minerals taking the top spot on a 42¢ gain to end at $9.25. The tightly-held company, with only 12.2 million shares out, saw a total of roughly 46,000 shares traded during the period after announcing its mining lease application had been accepted for its Morrison copper-gold project in British Columbia. The company brought the project to the feasibility-study stage back in 2003 and then got tied up in a series of lawsuits, but looks to finally be moving towards building a mine.

Northern Graphite continued its upward push, climbing as much as 84¢ at one point before ending up 38¢ at $2.63 with 5.4 million shares traded as interest in the graphite sector remains high. The company closed a $10.6 million financing at the end of the last period as it continues to advance its Bissett Creek graphite project in Ontario. Northern Graphite had planned to have a feasibility study out on the project by the end of 2011 but delays in starting a pilot plant pushed back the date, with the company now expecting the study out shortly.

Sutter Gold Mining’s share price more than doubled at one point on no news, climbing 32¢ to 53¢ over three days before retreating and ending up 14¢ at 35¢. The company, which had been trading fairly flat around 20¢ for several months on little volume, stated it was unaware of any reason for the activity. In early March the company received a building permit for its Lincoln gold project in California, and shortly after announced it had hit half a metre of 148 grams gold per tonne as well as several double-digit gold hits. The company has 117 million shares out.

The coup in Mali sent several Canadian-listed companies downwards, while the situation on the ground remains unclear. Great Quest Metals was the most notably affected company on the venture with a $1.20 drop to $1.97, though the significant decline comes after a strong climb from a 52-week low of $1.31 in January. The company is currently working on project engineering for its Tilemsi phosphate project and planned to restart ground work after the elections scheduled for April. Robex Resources, which is actively drilling its Nampala project in Mali, dropped 6¢ to 16¢ before ending at 18¢ with almost 7 million shares traded.

Sandstorm Gold was once again the most-traded company on the index with 18 million shares traded. The volume had the company trading up 11¢ to a 52-week high of $2.02 before dropping for two days to end down 10¢ at $1.81. Sandstorm Metals and Energy was the third most traded company with 7.8 million shares traded, though it too ended down with a 3¢ decline to 43¢. Both companies released annual financial results the week before.


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