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UPDATE 1-China August steel output hits record despite inspections - stats bureau

bureau@ (Adds details, record output)

BEIJING, Sept 14 (Reuters) - China produced a record amount of steel in August, data showed on Thursday, as mills in the world's top producer boosted production to take advantage of rising prices despite rigorous environmental inspections across the country.

Mills in the world's largest steelmaker churned out 74.59 million tonnes of the construction material in August, up 8.7 percent on a year earlier and just beating July's previous monthly record of 74.02 million tonnes.

In the first eight months of the year, steel output totalled 566.41 million tonnes, up 5.6 percent from the same period in 2016, the National Statistics Bureau (NBS) data showed, .

Chinese steel mills have been running at full tilt, with some even postponing proposed maintaince schedules to ramp up output in an effort to cash in on strong margins.

The most-active steel rebar futures rose 8.5 percent last month, and had biggest one-day hike in seven months in early August.

Higher prices have also been fuelled by concerns of capacity curbs during the coming winter after the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) pledged to reduce hazardous pollutants in the country's north, including key producing province Hebei, by halving steel output by up to 50 percent.

Some inspection teams have already been sent to 8 provinces in August, according to the MEP.

China's stockpiles of rebar, a construction steel product, rose to 3.88 million tonnes by the end of August. <SH-TOT-RBARINV> (Reporting by Muyu Xu and Beijing Newsroom; Editing by Richard Pullin)