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by Will Purcell
The diamond and specialty minerals stocks box score for Monday was a weak 69-103-138 as the TSX Venture Exchange rose fractionally to 511. Investors fretting about the fallout from the third quarter report of Dermot Desmond and Mark Wall's Mountain Province Diamonds Inc. (MPVD) had reason for concern. The stock slid four cents in intraday trading on the news Friday, ending the week off three cents to 23 cents on 246,000 shares.
The numbers were not unexpected -- mainly because all the salient digits had been revealed a month earlier, when Mountain Province rolled out its operating and sales results for the quarter. And so, the market was already aware that diamond production in the quarter was down 9 per cent from a year ago, thanks to the grade falling to 1.51 carats per tonne from the 1.78 carats per tonne that the company's 49-per-cent-owned Gahcho Kue mine had managed a year earlier.
The good news -- an item rarer than diamonds nowadays -- is that the grade reduction was temporary, for now at least. The miners had been expected to dig out more of the richer kimberlite from the 5034 pipe, not the lower-grade Tuzo pipe. The delay was the result of safety concerns "related to the interactive nature of the mining of the Tuzo and 5034 pits simultaneously," says Mr. Wall, president and chief executive officer.
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