Ukraine's steel output falls 3 pct in first quarter -producers

KIEV, April 5 (Reuters) - Ukraine’s steel production fell 3 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier to 5.23 million tonnes, steel producers’ union Ukrmetallurgprom said on Thursday.

Steel is one of Ukraine’s biggest exports but output fell last year after a 5.5 percent rise in 2016.

The union has said that problems transporting raw materials due to poor rail networks and the loss of some production capacity since pro-Russian separatists took control of part of eastern Ukraine in 2014 have hit the country’s steel output.

Data from the union showed pig iron output rose by 8 percent to 5.25 million tonnes in the first quarter, while rolled steel production fell 2 percent to 4.59 million tonnes.

The union said Ukraine produced 1.71 million tonnes of steel, 1.68 million tonnes of pig iron and 1.51 million tonnes of rolled steel in March.

Ukraine is expected to produce 1.7 million tonnes of steel in April. (Reporting by Pavel Polityuk; Editing by Susan Fenton)