London-based British Petroleum Co. (BP) confirmed Wednesday that it is in negotiations on an exclusive basis with RTZ Corp., also based in London, "with a view to the purchase" by RTZ of BP Minerals America, the Salt Lake parent company of Kennecott.

Sources close to the company contacted Wednesday, who asked not to be named, told the Deseret News the acquisition "is signed, sealed and delivered" and that the BP board of directors would approve the sale either Wednesday or Thursday.The Wall Street Journal carried an article in Tuesday's paper saying that BP was seeking to sell its minerals division to RTZ - an acronym for Rio Tinto Zinc. Ltd, a worldwide mining company, for $4 billion. The Journal said the money would be used by BP to buy the Los Angeles-based Unocal Corp.

For 12 years in the 1960s-'70s, RTZ was a 50 percent owner of Ireco Chemicals. Ireco, based in Salt Lake City, was sold to Gulf Resources & Chemicals Corp. Houston.

The one paragraph announcement from London Wednesday said the negotiations did not include BP Canada. "A further announcement will be made in due course," the company said.

Kennecott officials could not be reached for comment by press deadlines. Nor would any other officials connected with the merger comment.