COMMODITY / CHEMICAL BRIEFS

COMMODITY / CHEMICAL BRIEFS

CHINA RUMORS LEAD

TO WHEAT FUTURES RISE

CHICAGO - Wheat futures moved to fresh 17-month highs at Wednesday, with December contracts on the Chicago Board of Trade getting an extra kick higher from rumors that China may return to the export market.

Reports that a U.S. Department of Agriculture official is traveling to China helped feed rumors of fresh business with China.

Fundamental strength in the wheat pit continued from a pickup in export demand, a shortage of high-quality wheat in deliverable positions and spillover from rising corn prices.

Some traders tied part of the increase to anticipation Congress would approve the North American Free Trade Agreement.

December wheat late Wednesday was up 4 1/4 cents to $3.53 a bushel.

QUANTUM TO SHUT DOWN

3 POLYMER REACTORS

CINCINNATI - Quantum Chemical Co., a subsidiary of Hanson PLC, said it will close permanently its three oldest, least-efficient autoclave low density polyethylene (LDPE) polymer reactors.

Two of the units, located at Quantum's La Porte, Texas, complex, produce 60 million pounds of LDPE a year. Both reactors originally came on stream in the early 1960s and are unprofitable in today's petrochemicals market, Quantum said.

The company anticipates that the reactors will be shut down by Dec. 31, resulting in the elimination of 28 positions.

OK TEDI COPPER MINE

DELIVERIES STILL ON HOLD

TOKYO - Deliveries of copper concentrates from the OK Tedi mine in Papua New Guinea remain suspended as the drought that forced the mine to declare force majeure two weeks ago shows little sign of easing, a company official said Wednesday.

Force majeure is an announcement that a company will not be able to fulfill contracts due to circumstances beyond its control, like fire or weather.

The water level on the Fly River rose sufficiently to enable some copper to be shipped nine days ago, but it has since receded, bringing river transport to a halt, Stedman Ellis, company official, said.

Copper concentrates - intermediate material fed to smelters for processing - mined by OK Tedi have been stockpiled at the river Port of Kiunga and must travel 800 kilometers (496 miles) to the Port of Papua for export, Mr. Stedman said.

EXXON CLOSES SMELTER

TO REDUCE EMISSIONS

SANTIAGO, Chile - Exxon Corp. has temporarily closed its Chilean copper smelter to make sure it meets environmental standards this year, a company spokesman said Wednesday.

The Chagres smelter, part of the Disputada de Las Condes copper complex, suspended operations Nov. 13 when the company realized it was in danger of exceeding its annual average limit for sulfur dioxide emissions, said Disputada spokesman Guillermo Garcia.

Chagres could start operating again around Jan. 1, Mr. Garcia said. The shutdown will mean Chagres produces 7,000 metric tons of copper less than originally planned, Mr. Garcia said. The 1993 target was around 65,000 metric tons.