Dubai: Egypt’s ASCOM Geology and Mining Co has been chosen to work on a multi-billion dollar project to expand the Suez Canal by building a new canal alongside it, parent company Qalaa Holdings said on Wednesday.

Cairo-listed ASCOM, also known as ASEC Co for Mining, will excavate a 1 kilometre-long, 0.4 kilometre-wide section of the New Suez Canal, Qalaa said in a statement.

Qalaa, formerly named Citadel Capital, owns 39 per cent of ASCOM, according to Thomson Reuters data. It did not give a value for the contract but said ASCOM was one of 42 companies chosen to work on an initial phase of the project.

Two other Qalaa companies, energy sector firm Mashreq and river transport company Nile Logistics, are also working on the project, Qalaa added.

Earlier this month the government said it planned to build a new Suez Canal alongside the existing 145-year-old historic waterway in a project to expand trade along the fastest shipping route between Europe and Asia.