COMMODITY / CHEMICAL BRIEFS

COMMODITY / CHEMICAL BRIEFS

JAPANESE SEEK CHANGE

IN SAUDI NAPHTHA PRICING

TOKYO - Japanese buyers are seeking major changes in the Saudi Arabian pricing formula in their bids for 1994 term naphtha, sources at firms buying Saudi naphtha said.

The buyers were scheduled to submit bids Monday.

They are asking Saudi Aramco to price its term naphtha on a simple f.o.b. (free on board) Persian Gulf basis, the sources said. Aramco's pricing is now based on cost and freight Japan quotes adjusted downward to account for freight, plus a premium.

Term customers said the current pricing system, in which the freight component is based on the average freight rate assessment, makes it difficult to evaluate the naphtha's actual cost.

Buyers also are seeking the removal of the floor price component from the current formula. Under the current formula, the price is not allowed to fall below 90 percent of northwest European naphtha prices.

LIHIR GOLD PROJECT

TO BEGIN NEXT YEAR

SYDNEY, Australia - The development of the world's biggest undeveloped gold deposit, on Lihir Island in Papua New Guinea, is set to begin early next year under an agreement announced Monday.

Battle Mountain Gold Co., the U.S. majority owner of Nuigini Mining Ltd., said the principal owners and Papua New Guinea government officials have agreed to form the Lihir Gold Co. to develop the huge project.

British mining giant RTZ PLC, Nuigini Mining and the Papua New Guinea government finalized agreement on the ownership structure of the Lihir joint venture over the weekend.

The Lihir deposit has proven reserves of more than 19 million ounces of gold. Once started, it would be the biggest gold mine outside South Africa.

Under the plan, RTZ will retain a 40 percent interest, NML's stake will rise to 30 percent from 20 percent and the Papua New Guinea government will control the final 30 percent. The positions would be pooled into Lihir Gold.

EXPORTERS SET TO RETAIN

REGISTERED BRAZIL COFFEE BRASILIA, Brazil - Brazilian coffee exporters have agreed to retain up to 20 percent of 2.5 million 60-kilogram bags of coffee set for October-June export under previous registrations, a trade group said.

The Brazilian Coffee Exporters Federation said its members, which include virtually all coffee exporters in Brazil, will abide by rules of the Association of Coffee Producing Countries, even on registrations made before a July government order suspending registrations as of Oct. 1.

The July government order was in preparation for a coffee retention plan due to go into effect Oct. 1.

SOUTH AFRICAN MINERS

RETURN TO DURBAN DEEP

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa - Workers at South Africa's Durban Roodepoort Deep (Durban Deep) gold mine returned to work Friday evening after a three-day strike that cost the mine about 50 kilograms (1,750 ounces) of gold in lost production.

The miners went on strike after clashes between rival ethnic groups left seven dead and 41 injured.

Durban Deep, a marginal mine owned by Randgold & Exploration, lifted gold output 17 percent, to 5.5 metric tons in 1992, but saw after-tax profits slip 68 percent. It employs 4,100 mine workers.

PORT LOGJAM STALLS AID

TO GEORGIA, ARMENIA

WASHINGTON - The Agriculture Department is postponing food aid to Georgia and Armenia because ports are getting backed up amid Georgia's escalating rebellion, a department official said last week.

Mary Chambliss, of the Foreign Agriculture Service, said the department is postponing buying goods such as infant formula to donate, because U.S. cargoes are being held up already in jammed Georgian ports.

Georgia and Armenia both face serious food shortages this winter.

"We have delayed those purchases right now from the United States while we try to assess what is happening in the port situation. It's a logistical logjam," she said.