The local Ezz Steel’s $475m Ain Sokhna steel plant scheme in Egypt is still delayed as it waits for foreign workers to return after being evacuated due to protests in February.

Many of the scheme’s foreign technical staff, who were told to leave the country by their respective embassies, due to safety concerns are now returning to the North African state.

“People are now returning so we are hopeful to resume work on this project again within the next two weeks,” a source says. “Many of the concerns people had before they left have not materialised so it is perfectly safe to come back to Egypt now.”

The source also adds that he does not believe that the recent arrest of Ezz Steel’s chairman, Ahmed Ezz, due to corruption allegations will not affect the project.

“Everyone is being told that whatever happens it will not affect the day-to-day operations of Ezz Steel,” the source says.  

Ahmed Ezz is currently being detained by Egyptian authorities on corruption charges, but is denying all the allegations made against him.

The plant will have a production capacity of 3 million tonnes a year (t/y) of steel when completed. The plant will include a direct reduction facility, with a production capacity of 1.7 million-t/y and an electric arc furnace with a capacity of 1.3 million-t/y.

The stoppages have made the completion date unclear, but the project is now between 40-50 per cent complete.

Italy’s Danieli are providing the technology for the facility, as well as carrying out the engineering, procurement and construction. 

Ezz Steel has a production capacity of 5.8 million-t/y, which makes it the largest steel producer in Egypt and the largest independent producer in the Mena region.