TOKYO (AP) _ Nippon Steel Corp. said Thursday it and other major Japanese steelmakers are studying the feasibility of building an integrated steel mill in China with an annual production capacity of 3.5 million tons of crude steel.

Junichi Imade of Nippon Steel, Japan's largest steelmaker, said the company was asked by China's Ministry of Metallurgical Industry to build the plant in Shijiusuo, Shandong province, jointly with China.

Shijiusuo, which is along the Yellow Sea, is 600 kilometers (360 miles) southeast of the Chinese capital city of Beijing.

Imade said Kensuke Koga, vice president of Nippon Steel, visited China in late July to discuss financial aspects of the project, which is estimated by the Japan's Ministry of International Trade and Industry to cost 600 billion yen ($4.4 billion).

Imade declined to elaborate.

However, he denied a Japanese press report that Nippon Steel and other major steel makers have reached a basic agreement with China on the project and that a formal agreement would be made during Prime Minister Noboru Takeshita's visit to China late this month.