Refractories are supplied to numerous industries wherever heat is used and abrasion and acid resistance is required. To suit customer requirements, bricks, blocks and holloware in different shapes and sizes are produced, as well as a full range of monolithic refractories in the form of plastics, mortars, castables, ramming and gunning materials. Many of these products are the result of in-house research and development.
Vereeniging Refractories is the oldest and largest refractories manufacturer in Africa. It is a broad based supplier of refractory bricks and monolithics (something created in one piece) to the domestic and export markets.
Fire clay deposits were found under the seams of coal at Sammy Marks’s Bedworth Colliery and in 1890, the first bricks were manufactured from these deposits. By 1894, fire-clay bricks were made and supplied to the Cape Government Railways to line the fire-boxes of locomotives and domestic bricks were dispatched to the diamond mines and township of Kimberley. The production of bricks was conducted as an ancillary operation of the coal mining company owned by the Vereeniging Estates Limited until 1903 when the Vereeniging Brick and Tile Company Limited was registered. Early products included building bricks, paving bricks, fire bricks and fire-clay goods, salt-glazed stoneware pipes and fittings for sewerage schemes, agricultural drain tiles, silica and magnesite bricks, roofing tiles, floor tiles, insulators, wine jars, acid jars and acid proof ware. However, it was only in 1937, when amorphous silica bricks were made for the first time at the Vereeniging works, that the manufacture of refractories received serious attention.
The company’s continued expansion accompanied the phenomenal growth of the steel, metallurgical and engineering industries in South Africa, and many extensions and major additions were made to the Vereeniging plant. In 1946, the Vereeniging Brick and Tile became a public company within the Anglo American Corporation Group. In 1967, the name of the company was changed to Vereeniging Refractories Limited. In 2001, Anglo sold off its interest in Vereeniging Refractories to an investment group and Verref became an independant company.