Record trading in Bre-X Minerals Ltd. shares caused the Toronto Stock Exchange’s computer system to crash, embarrassing officials who rejected the company’s request to keep a halt on the stock.
Bre-X shares began trading at 10:30 a.m. in Toronto, after the exchange ended a halt that began Monday. More than 7.8 million shares changed hands in 23 minutes, and the exchange’s computer trading system failed for the second time in three trading sessions.
“We’re very disappointed,” said Fred Ketchen, a senior trader with ScotiaMcLeod Inc. “The system can’t keep breaking down like this every time you get a stock that all of a sudden turns active. That is what stock markets are all about.”
Shares of the Calgary, Alberta-based mining exploration company were halted most of Thursday, when the stock plunged 83 percent amid concern that estimates of its Indonesian gold find were exaggerated.
Bre-X officials pleaded with exchange officials to extend the halt for as long as 30 days, until more test data on the gold find became available. But the Toronto exchange rejected the request.
The shares, which continued to trade in Alberta, Montreal and New York, rose 81 cents in Canadian currency to $3.50 on trading of 23.6 million, making it Canada’s most active stock.
Bre-X shares also caused computer problems during heavy trading Thursday in Toronto. That day, the company’s partner Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. said initial tests showed “insignificant” amounts of gold at the Busang deposit in Indonesia, recently touted as the world’s largest.
The Toronto Stock Exchange said the speed and volume of trading is knocking out its computer-assisted system, which will be replaced by a fully computerized trading system at the end of the month.
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