Mysterious stock dump sends Montreal metals junior tanking

Stock in Orbite Aluminae Inc (TSE:ORT) crashed 36% in massive volumes on Wednesday without any fresh news that could have prompted the sell-off.

By the close the Montreal-based developer was trading down 36% at $0.205 on the Toronto big board, with more than a 10 million shares changing hands – that's at least ten time usual volumes. Orbite now has a market value of $80 million.

The Montreal-based company said in a press-release it is "unaware of any undisclosed material changes or corporate developments in its operations" that could have caused the move and have now asked for a formal investigation.

Orbite hopes to complete construction of a $105 million high-grade alumina plant by the end of the year.

A cost blow-out at the plant that decimated the stock price saw an overhaul of top management and board last year.

At the beginning of March the company announced a $10 million equity investment from the Government of Quebec.

Orbite was also able to raise $56 million late last year through a $16 million public offering and separate private placement to complete the construction of the plant.

The plant in Cap-Chat, Quebec, will use a patented technology that can extract alumina and by-products such as rare earth and rare metal oxides from feedstocks that include aluminous clay, kaolin, nepheline, bauxite, red mud and fly ash.

Orbite owns the Grande-Vallée aluminous claystone deposit that will feed another plant on the drawing board.

The dramatic fall had stockboards buzzing and punters scratching their heads why the stock started tanking in late afternoon trade after being flat for most of the day.

Data from CanadianInsider show a director of the company picked up 70,000 shares on the open market on Thursday, while more than 4 million options were granted to insiders yesterday.

Director Claude Lamoureux, who built the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan into a $100 billion investment fund, bought at the pre-crash price of $0.34.

At $0.40 the directors and management options issued on Tuesday are now also deeply under water.