BEIJING Jan 5 (Reuters) - China's total apparent crude steel consumption is expected to rise about 4 percent to 700 million tonnes this year, the chairman of the China Iron and Steel Association said on Thursday.
Zhu Jimin, also head of Shougang Group, one of the country's biggest steelmakers, made the comments in a speech published on the association's website.
Addressing members at CISA's annual meeting, Zhu said prospects for the steel sector remained gloomy, with the entire sector facing falling profits in 2012.
"Enterprises are facing increasing operating risks, under pressure from a variety of factors such as rising costs, falling demand and difficult and expensive financing," he said.
Zhu said a series of policies introduced last year to control the real estate sector had reduced demand for steel, and if the policies were not adjusted the situation could worsen in 2012.
Slowing growth in domestic manufacturing, railway, shipbuilding and auto sectors could also take its toll, he added.
Total crude steel output stood at 630.98 million tonnes in the first eleven months of 2011, up 9.8 percent year on year, according to official data from the National Bureau of Statistics.
However, production slowed considerably in the final quarter of the year, with daily runs slipping to 1.66 million tonnes, from about 1.9 million tonnes from February to September.
A Reuters poll of 12 brokerages and industry consultancies predicted that Chinese crude steel consumption in 2012 would stand at 685 million tonnes.