“Given the current market conditions, we can achieve better returns on our investments in other projects that we are working on,” said Ahmed El-Sewedy, chief executive officer of the company, in a statement on 21 October.

El-Sewedy added that the company could build the project much more cheaply a year from now.

The company announced plans to build the $850m copper smelter in Ain Sokhna on the Red Sea coast in June 2007.

The plant will have a capacity of 300,000 tonnes a year of copper cathodes.

El-Sewedy Cables is one of the largest cable producers in the Middle East.