by Stockwatch Business Reporter
New York spot gold closed up $4.30 to $1,780.10 Thursday, as the U.S. dollar fell and tensions rose between Israel, the West and Iran. The Fraser Insitute has its 2011-2012 mining company survey: New Brunswick is the most attractive mining jurisdiction, followed by Finland and Alberta. The least favourable place to mine is Honduras, right behind Guatemala and Bolivia. British Columbia ranked 31st. Also today, the TSX Venture Exchange added nine points to 1,694 and the TSX Gold Index added one point to 390.
Larger Canadian gold miners ended some up, some down. Yamana Gold Inc. (YRI) gained 54 cents to $17.90 on 6.31 million shares and Goldcorp Inc. (G) rose nine cents to $49.35 on 3.89 million shares, while Barrick Gold Corp. (ABX) lost five cents to $49.43 on 3.46 million shares and Kinross Gold Corp. (K) lost eight cents to $11.42 on 5.64 million shares.
Sean Roosen's Osisko Mining Corp. (OSK) jumped 57 cents to $12.49 on 6.43 million shares. The company's year-end financials show it earned $17.99-million on revenues of $263-million from selling its first 180,000 ounces of gold. Osisko brought its Malartic mine in Quebec to production last April. In May, the company poured a special gold bar in front of 1,100 supporters at an inauguration party that began with a rock blast, followed by a mine tour, a catered lunch and plenty of speeches. Some mining VIPs, such as Astur Gold Corp.'s (AST: $1.30) Cary Pinkowski and his young wife, Ekaterina, got to handle the Osisko-labelled gold bar, while posing with expensive cigars. This month Mr. Roosen has something else to celebrate. Ernst & Young has named him Quebec's 2011 entrepreneur of the year.
More recently, the globetrotting Pinkowskis visited Whistler for some skiing. They hit the slopes with Andrew Fedak, a director of Mr. Pinkowski's private company, CP Capital Group, and fellow globetrotting promoter Karl Antonius. Mr. Antonius is working the thinly traded Brandenburg Energy Corp. (BBM: $0.115), which recently closed an $860,000 financing. According to Brandenburg, its president spent two years in charge of Mandalay Bay Resources Corp. (MND: $0.81), a TSX-V-listed miner. Indeed he did, but at that time Mandalay was nowhere near mining. Mr. Antonius spent 2006 to 2008 failing to impress investors with drill results from the La Quebreda copper property in Chile, and the stock declined to four cents from 34 cents. The company only turned around in 2009 when Bradford Mills, the current president took over after a 1:10 rollback. He helped the company acquire its first gold-antimony mine, Costerfield, in Australia, and in 2010 brought the company's Cerro Bayo silver mine in Chile to production.
Today, Mandalay rose six cents to 81 cents on 3.94 million shares, the result of an increase in the company's proven and probable gold reserves to 161,000 ounces from 87,000 ounces, and a doubling of the proven and probable silver reserves to 15.9 million ounces. After drilling 74,000 metres last year, Mandalay continues with eight rigs at Cerro Bayo and three at Costerfield. The company also points out that its Cerro Bayo silver sales are back to normal. They dropped in the first and second quarters of 2011, when its main buyer, Dowa Metals of Akita Japan, suspended purchases following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. (Akita is a couple of hours north of Sendai.) Mandalay's stock dipped to 45 cents from 60 cents on the tsunami news, but it has since recovered nicely, boosting the value Mr. Mills's 4.57 million shares by $1.6-million.
Bryce Roxburgh and Yale Simpson's Extorre Gold Mines Ltd. (XG) fell 23 cents to $8 on 961,900 shares. On Feb. 16, Extorre cancelled a $50-million prospectus offering of shares at $9.45. The prospectus had caught the attention of the British Columbia Securities Commission, which asked for clarification of details concerning Extorre's Cerro Moro project in Argentina. The company said that the BCSC's comments "do not relate" to the November, 2011, Cerro Moro resource estimate; rather, the concerns were about the August, 2011, preliminary economic assessment -- on which the November estimate was based, a rather fine distinction. Extorre released the August, 2011, PEA as an update to an October, 2010, version. In the update, the company assumed a higher ore-processing rate and a higher gold price, which in effect increased the Cerro Moro production estimate to 494,700 ounces of gold and 26.6 million ounces of silver, from 436,000 ounces of gold and 21.4 million ounces of silver.
The day after cancelling the prospectus, Extorre dropped 56 cents to $8.22 on 1.22 million shares, which triggered regulators' new single-stock circuit breaker. Now, the company must release another PEA, one that complies with NI 43-101. It says it will do so by March.
Extorre's falling stock will be disappointing for some pension fund managers, who last year took a little flyer on a private placement of Extorre shares at $10.50. Greatly impressed with the company's prospects were the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, which bought $1.05-million worth of shares, Canada Post Corp.'s Registered Pension Plan, which spent $210,000 and the Pension Fund Society of Bank of Montreal and several BMO funds, which spent $1.23-million. The pension managers were late arrivals to the Extorre party, which has been underway since 2010 when the stock was $1.50. The excellent promotion saw the stock hit $14 in mid-2011.
Besides Extorre, co-chairmen Bryce Roxburgh and Yale Simpson have two other promotions together -- Extorre's parent company Exeter Resource Corp. (XRC), which has fallen steadily to $3.75 from about $9 since early 2010, and the quieter Rugby Mining Ltd. (RUG: $0.68). Mr. Roxburgh holds 4.56 million Extorre shares, while Mr. Simpson holds 1.36 million. Their Extorre holdings include shares acquired last year by exercising options at 53 cents and 63 cents. The promoters are doing better than the pensioners.
Tom Mair's Golden Star Resources Ltd. (GSC) added 13 cents to $2.16 on 788,000 shares after releasing its 2011 results. Gold production, as expected, from the Bogoso and Wassa mines in Ghana, came in around 301,000 ounces, down from 355,000 ounces in 2010 and 410,000 in 2009. December, 2011, was the company's 21st consecutive month of lower-than-expected production, yet an optimistic Mr. Mair continues to assure investors that things are looking up. "We have resolved the operational issues encountered during 2011," he says, refering to transitional ore, power outages, ore blockages, blending problems and cleanup shutdowns. There was also some bad weather, but that of course was the fault of Samini, the Ghanaian god of rain, who has become an expert at flooding the company's mine pits and haul roads. Last month, Golden Star finished a $3-million upgrade at is Bogoso mine, which it hopes will increase production this quarter.