The boom period for the Chinese steel industry has come to an end and profit margins are at risk amid a glut of crude steel in the domestic market, Baosteel chairman Xu Lejiang told the ongoing Baosteel Annual Academic Meeting. “The curtain on mergers and acquisitions has been drawn now that upstream mining and the downstream auto and ship making industries have become more concentrated,” the China Securities Journal reported Xu as saying. “This has prompted us to come up with a ‘scale plus quality’ strategy, meaning an expansionary and higher value-added business mode.” A representative of a South Korean steel maker raised concerns at the meeting that iron ore prices could rise after the Australian regulator gave a green light to BHP Billiton’s US$101 billion bid for Rio Tinto, putting further pressure on Asian mills. The Securities Times reported that China Iron & Steel Association figures show average pretax profit margins at the 70 largest steel mills in Asia dropped 2.54 percentage points from July to a 29-month low of 4% in August. Combined gross profit was up 24.93% on a year earlier to US$33.87 billion (RMB231.8 billion) over the first eight months.