TORONTO — Falling mining stocks pushed the Toronto stock market slightly lower Monday as traders looked to a heavy slate of earnings news coming out this week.Here are the closing numbersTSX — 14,493.68 -6.71 -0.05%S&P 500 — 1,871.89 +7.04 +0.38%Dow — 16,449.25 +40.71 +0.25%Nasdaq — 4,121.55 +26.03 +0.64%The S&P/TSX composite index declined 6.71 points to 14,493.68. The Canadian dollar was down 0.01 of a cent to 90.79 cents US.New York’s Dow industrials closed up 40.71 points to 16,449.25, the Nasdaq composite index was 26.03 points higher at 4,121.55 and the S&P 500 index climbed 7.04 points to 1,871.89.After the close, Rogers Communications (TSX:RCI.B) posted adjusted earnings for the first quarter of 66 cents a share, four cents lower than analyst estimates.Rogers acquired additional wireless spec%trum during the January auction for $3.3 billion, which will be needed to allow consumers to stream NHL games on their mobile devices. Rogers scored a $5.2-billion multi-year deal last fall for the Canadian rights to all NHL games and its shares inched up a penny to $44.28.“There’s a bit of a transition going on in that industry,” said Craig Fehr, Canadian markets specialist at Edward Jones in St. Louis.“We’re seeing the telecom providers understand that the real future of profitability and pricing power relates to the delivery of content, particularly as it relates to the mobile platform.”Teck Resources (TSX:TCK.B) reports Tuesday and its results will be impacted by falling commodity prices. Copper prices have tumbled 11% this year and coal prices have fared even worse, falling from US$300 a tonne in 2011 to about $120 a tonne. Teck shares slipped 30 cents to $24.01.Meanwhile, Canadian Pacific (TSX:CP) also reports Tuesday and investors will look to see how severe winter weather affected the railway in the quarter and how increased petroleum shipments have lifted the bottom line. CP shares climbed 78 cents to $163.99.The tech sector in particular will be in focus as traders take in earnings during the week from tech heavyweights including Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft. The results are being released following a sharp correction in the tech sector that has seen the Nasdaq index drop about 5% this month.“We saw a big sell-off in the markets and it was driven by this concern that stocks in general have become overvalued — but there were certainly pockets of the market that were frothy and technology was really at the centre of that,” added Fehr.“So we saw some of that froth come out of the market but the good news is that it didn’t seep into the broader market.”After the close, Netflix reported quarterly earnings per share of 86 cents, three cents ahead of estimates.Elsewhere on the corporate front, TransCanada shares fell $1.92 to $49.38 after the U.S. government said Friday that it needs more time to prepare its recommendation to President Barack Obama on the company’s Keystone XL pipeline.Barrick Gold (TSX:ABX) shares were down 78 cents to $19.03 as the Wall Street Journal said that merger talks between the Toronto-based mining company and Newmont Mining had broken off last week. However, sources told Bloomberg and others that the issues separating the two parties are minor, leaving open the possibility that the deal could still happen.The gold sector was the biggest weight, down about 0.4% as June bullion fell $5.40 to US$1,288.50 an ounce.The metals and mining sector was down 0.34% with May copper unchanged at US$3.04 a pound.The TSX energy sector was off 0.05% as May crude in New York added seven cents to US$104.37 barrel.TOP STORIESTransCanada shares hit as Obama again delays final decision on Keystone pipelineGoldcorp backs off hostile bid for Osisko, leaving field to white knightsTiming finally right for the merger of the world’s two biggest gold producersFord to name COO Mark Fields as new chief executive: sourcesWHAT’S ON DECK THURSDAYCANADA8:30 a.m.Wholesale trade (Feb): Economists expect 0.6% rise UNITED STATES9 a.m.FHFA House price index (Feb): Economists expect 0.5% rise 10 a.m.Existing home sales (March): Economists expect 1% decline CORPORATE NEWSCANADACanadian National Railway Q1 earnings: Analysts expect 61¢ a share Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd Q1 earnings: Analysts expect $1.40 a share Teck Resources Ltd Q1 earnings: Analysts expect 25¢ a share UNITED STATESAmgen Q1 earnings: Analysts expect US$1.93 a share BNY Mellon Q1 earnings: Analysts expect 53¢ a share Comcast Corp. Q1 earnings: Analysts expect 64¢ a share Gilead Sciences Q1 earnings: Analysts expect 88¢ a share Harley-Davidson Q1 earnings: Analysts expect US$1.08 a share Lockheed Martin Q1 earnings: Analysts expect US$2.53 a share McDonald’s Corp. Q1 earnings: Analysts expect US$1.24 a share United Technologies Q1 earnings: Analysts expect US$1.27 a share Xerox Corp. Q1 earnings: Analysts expect 24¢ a share Yum! Brands, Inc. Q1 earnings: Analysts expect 85¢ a share
Addressing the third and final day today of the Paydirt 2010 Africa Downunder Conference in Perth, African Lion Funds’ Chairman, Mike Brook said there are more investing opportunities presenting in Africa’s resources sector now than at any time in the past 10 years. He said the $79 million venture capital fund was looking for opportunities in Africa in the up to $12 million range.The major shareholders include the Lion Selection Group, Botswana African Mining Fund, UK based Development Bank, CDC Group and the European Investment Bank and has current investments in seven African resource projects. “The opportunities to invest in Africa change constantly, and it is vital to re-assess and update on an ongoing basis,” Brook said.“However at the current time, we have identified more than 400 potential opportunities, three quarters of which are with listed explorers and miners, and of those, two thirds of them call the ASX and the Toronto stock exchanges home. Many of the best opportunities are in gold and we are seeing a lot of those opportunities coming through, particularly via the TSX.“The highest level of opportunity is in South Africa, but there is a reasonably broad spread dominated by southern and western Africa but with Zambia and the DRC making some claim in the centre of the continent. Tanzania is also a prime opportunity along the eastern seaboard.”Brook said that by commodity, African Lion 3 saw precious metals opportunities largely coming from South Africa and West Africa “but we are seeing the spread across the continent with some weighting towards gold in western Africa. In bulk commodities, South Africa dominates for iron ore and coal.”Senegal says its reforms to the country’s resources investment and mining laws have created a favourable climate for increasing foreign investment in the country’s mining sector. Addressing the delegates, Senegal’s Director of Mines and Geology, Dr Moussa Sylla, said that since the first reforms were introduced in 2003 and further updates in 2007, Senegal now offered mining procedures that were transparent, efficient and easy to understand.“We have backed this by focusing on ensuring Senegal has assembled highly qualified staff who understand the needs of foreign businesspeople and resources investors. Profit margins are already bigger in Africa than elsewhere and Senegal presents an excellent opportunity within this environment.“Our new mining laws are now delivering on security of tenure, the ability to repatriate profits, management of control of operations by the foreign investor, realistic exchange regulations, stable exploration and mining terms, and predictability of tax. We have also backed these legislative measures with flexible labour options.”Dr Sylla said the changes were also benefiting Senegal’s population with 20% of the country’s mineral revenues being allocated to local communities and mining companies are committed by law to provide a mining site rehabilitation fund. He explained Senegal was also improving export infrastructure at the country’s main port and this would enhance investment attitudes to its resources offerings.Australian companies in Senegal include Mineral Deposits Ltd (MDL) and Bassari Resources. Bassari says it plans to assign additional drill rigs to its emerging gold project in Senegal to generate a fourth quarter lift in exploration tempo at the company’s mainstream Bassari project. Managing Director, Jozsef Patarica, said the move was aimed at crystallising the growth opportunities at Bassari which hosts at least 9 prospects along a 75 km length of strike.“This is a very under-explored region of Western Africa but is a gold hot spot now starting to benefit from Senegal’s pro-mining government and its focus on targeting development of the country’s natural resources sector,” Patarica said. “We have four drill rigs on site but are looking to urgently mobilise a higher capacity reverse circulation rig to lift the drill tempo. Bassari has also elected to drill through the coming wet season, particularly at the key high grade Makabingui prospect where there is room for significant expansion of the drill pattern and gold intersects. Results are pending for our fist diamond drill campaign at Makabingui which is ground surrounded by a number of world-class gold deposits.”Bassari also plans to gradually lift production at its small Douta alluvial mine to between 8,000 – 10,000 oz/y and to add further to the existing 25,600 oz resource under the company’s five year renewable permit.MDL, the company that originally dredged the Gold Coast’s famous white beach sands, is set to demerge its African gold business from November as it gears to launch the world’s newest mineral sands operation. Addressing the conference, Executive Chairman, Nic Limb, said demerging the gold business would unlock the inherent value in the gold business for shareholders and allow the Company to focus on developing for first production by 2013, the world class $406 million Grande Cote mineral sands project on Senegal’s coast.“The demerger will be effected by the New Year with the IPO and Canadian listing commencing in November,” Limb said. “80% of shares in the proposed new listing will be offered to MDL shareholders and we believe there will be strong support for that. Strategically, Grande Cote will come on stream at a time of increasingly tight supply in mineral sands globally, particularly zircon, and there are not a lot of new suppliers coming into the market such is its nature.“It has taken us seven to eight years and more than $100 million in expenditure to date to get to the stage of bringing Grande Cote into production but while the capital costs seem high, this is a business that offers high long life margins and is a very very attractive proposition. It doesn’t seem on that basis to try and manage both a gold business and a mineral sands business.”MDL estimates that Grande Cote – a 100 km long, no clay beach deposition with low impurities, will generate cash flow of between $75 and 100 million a year with operating costs of $75 million/y. It is expected to have a mine life from its resource base of more than 3,000 Mt at 1.8% Heavy Mineral (HM), of more than 25 years.The project will employ a worldclass dredge and 6,000 t floating concentrator, and mine at a rate of 55 Mt/y, producing Limb says, “the highest quality zircon in the world”.The Company is also looking to double throughput of its $325 million Sabodala gold mine in Senegal, first opened last year. “We are currently processing around 2.4 Mt/y but want to take that over the next year or 2-4 Mt/y to lift Sabodala to a 200,000 oz/y gold mine at a cash cost of around $500/oz,” Limb said.Namibia’s newest iron ore explorer and developer, Avonlea Minerals, says its immediate focus now will be on delineating a significant iron ore resource estimate in the country, following initial success in identifying three prospective deposits. Managing Director, David Riekie, said that while the company had delineated three key magnetite iron prosects in Nambia’s northwest in the past 12 months, additional regional prospects had been identified but remained untested.“Our results and historical data, now confirm the potential for scale projects within an extremely prospective magnetite iron rich province in the northwest. So we need to take this to the next step and delineate a significant ore resource, something we believe in the global market focus on Africa’s iron ore potential, will enable our projects to command a higher underlying enterprise value.”Avonlea’s initial program has delineated the Thresher, Hammerhead and Ondjou prospects in the far northwest corner of Namibia, with broad zones of rich magnetite encountered in all of the prospects. It has consigned a conceptual target of 900 Mt plus to the lower grade (20-30% Fe) Hammerhead prospect, and around 150 Mt to the higher grade (30+%) Thresher target. Initial Davis Tube Recovery (DTR) test work has generated recovery rates of up to 38% grading up to 70% Fe concentrate with low impurities.Further drilling, a 4,200 m of Reverse Circulation, is currently underway on Ondjou which has a 10 km long strike potential, with a view to generating the company’s maiden resource estimate.One of Victoria and Tasmania’s best known miners, Bendigo Gold Mining, says it sees West Africa as a natural growth market but is taking a slowly slowly approach to its first offshore exploration and mining move. Bendigo’s CFO, Tim Churcher, said the company had grown its Victorian and Tasmanian operations through exploration and acquisition and wanted to “continue along that path.“We have not been able to find sufficient opportunities at the front end of the gold production cycle in Australia and west Africa got onto our radar pretty quickly,” Churcher said. “West Africa offers the opportunity for low risk strategic alliances and we have tapped into an experienced local management team with some exciting assets with GoldStone Resources. “However, our view is to take it one step at a time, learning and making informed decisions with every step. We will continue to walk this path in a market where Australian miners like us are welcomed and where the opportunities are not yet dominated by Canadian juniors.”Bendigo has taken a 20% stake in Goldstone Resources at a cost of A$4.3 million and a 10.7% stake in BCD Resources NL. One of the first steps forward in its African foray is the pending commencement of a 4,000 m drilling program later this year on the promising Homase gold project in Ghana. Goldstone also owns the Manso-Amenfi gold licence in southwest Ghana, has two large gold holdings in Senegal and has very large gold in soil anomalies in Gabon under application.Ashanti Goldfields mined two of Homase’s shallow pits seven years ago but Goldstone estimates there is a 283,000 oz gold resource beneath and along from the pits and containing 6.3 Mt at an average 1.4 g/t Au. Churcher said the Homase drill program would target extensions below and along from the previously mined pit.