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Tahera looks for buyers

Tahera Diamond Corp, under creditor protection since January, said yesterday that it has hired financial advisory firm Blair Franklin Capital Partners Inc, which will seek bids for the miner, Reuters reported. Tahera, which suspended mining at its money-losing Jericho diamond project in February, also said it will miss the March 31 filing deadline for its 2007 financial results, the report said. The Toronto-based company will not prepare the statements until it knows the outcome of its restructuring efforts. It expects to delay its annual meeting until the financial report is filed, it said. "Blair Franklin will be contacting potential interested parties in order to solicit expressions of interest leading to the sale of the company in whole or in part," Tahera said in a statement. Teck Cominco, Tahera's biggest shareholder, recently said it was no longer interested in diamond sector investments because the industry is being hurt by a strong Canadian dollar. "At the moment, that move in the Canadian dollar has really hurt the industry, so I doubt that we'd be making any moves there," Chief Executive Don Lindsay said on a conference call with analysts last month. Teck invested C$30 million ($29 million) in Tahera in 2006. Tahera also said it will request a cease trade order from Canadian security regulators. Such orders require regular updates, said the company, which plans to issue unaudited financial and operating results in coming weeks. Now in cash-conservation mode, the company's board of directors has been halved after four directors resigned. Mining at Jericho, located in Canada's far north, was stopped just 19 months after production began. Operations were hampered by unseasonably warm weather in 2006, which shut a key ice road, used for bringing in supplies, several weeks early. That led to supply shortages, a scaled back mine plan and higher costs. The strong Canadian dollar and lower than expected grades also hurt results. The company tried to raise C$40 million in a December offering to continue operations, but the effort failed.

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