(Corrects the company's corporate office to Sudbury in the 3rd paragraph)
* Company to spend up to C$5 mln on exploration in 2011
* Says well-funded to develop assets without JV, deals
* Focused on gold projects, sees strong demand from Asia
By Julie Gordon
TORONTO, March 8 (Reuters) - Northern Superior (SUP.V) will be less dependent on deals this year as it uses its strong cash position to move its projects further along the development path, the company's chief executive said on Tuesday.
"Instead of having to rush out and seek somebody to help us JV these projects early on, we can take them a little bit further," said Chief Executive Thomas Morris in a interview with Reuters on the sidelines of the PDAC prospectors and developers conference.
The Sudbury, Ontario-based exploration company saw its market capitalization rise from C$10 million ($10.3 million) to C$130 million last year, boosted by positive drilling at its Ti-pa-haa-kaa-ning (TPK) gold project in Ontario.
"We certainly now have much better leverage in terms of getting better deals," said Morris.
TSX Venture top mining explorers:
For more stories on PDAC convention: [ID:nN02153893]
Last year, Northern Superior sold a 51 percent stake in the promising eastern half of the TPK project to Rainy River Resources RR.V for C$11 million.
The company still owns the western block of TPK, along with numerous gold exploration projects in Ontario and Quebec.
"With all these other properties, we've got money in the bank, we've got the staff," said Morris. "We can certainly take them right through."
The company has C$25 million and is well funded for the next two years, said Morris. While the company will spend up to $5 million on advanced exploration, it is not looking to become a producer, he said.
"We can take a project to a certain point," he said. "But we're not miners."
With spot gold price near record highs, Northern Superior is focused on developing its gold assets, but Morris noted that the climate could be right for diversification.
"We have a number of other projects we can spin out, not just in gold, but in base metals and diamonds," said Morris. "With these emerging middle classes in China, India, Brazil and elsewhere, I see a huge appetite for commodities across the board."
($1=$0.97 Canadian) (Edited by Frank McGurty)