* Baowu chairman: China 2018 steel output to rise above 900 mln T
* That would surpass last year’s record 831.7 mln T
* Chinese mills ramping up output amid strong profit margins (Adds detail, background)
SHANGHAI, Nov 6 (Reuters) - China’s steel output will climb above 900 million tonnes in 2018, the chairman of the country’s largest producer of the building material said on Tuesday, marking the highest level on record.
Chen Derong, chairman of Baowu Steel, was speaking at the China International Import Expo, or CIIE, in Shanghai.
China, which produces and consumes about half the world’s steel, saw output hit a record 831.7 million tonnes last year. In the first three quarters of 2018, production had reached 699.4 million tonnes, up 6.1 percent from the same period in 2017.
Chinese mills earlier ramped up output to cash in on strong profit margins, with steel prices driven higher by production curbs as part of Beijing’s campaign for clearer skies.
But steel production for the rest of the year is likely to remain high, analysts say, with China allowing provinces and regions to set their own output restrictions during winter instead of repeating last winter’s blanket curbs.
The average profit margin at steel mills is around 1,000 yuan ($144.48) a tonne, according to Huatai Futures. ($1 = 6.9214 Chinese yuan) (Reporting by David Stanway and Meng Meng; Editing by Richard Pullin and Joseph Radford)