by an English engineer, Henry Horace Wright, but his group did not have the resources to proceed with the melting plant. He knew of Sammy Marks's dream to establish a steel industry and enlisted his aid. The result was the Union Steel Corporation of South Africa Ltd. Marks chose a site on the north bank of the Vaal River close to his coal mining operations which supplied the furnaces of the steelworks, and in 1913 the first steel was cast by USCO.
But that was still not enough for Sammy Marks. He had a pathological hatred about wasting anything, whether it was unused poor quality coal from the colliery or idle farmland. He decided, quite rightly, that it would make sense to use the coal to produce power to mill maize grown on the farms, originally purchased for their coal deposits, thus reducing the cost of feeding the coal miners. Power could also be used to pump water to the rapidly growing gold mining settlement to the north, which had graduated from Ferreirastown to Johannesburg and was growing at a phenomenal rate. The Victoria Falls and Transvaal Power Company shared Marks' views and erected a power station on the banks of the Vaal River just south of the steelworks in 1912. This also used coal from Marks's collieries, and the canny entrepreneur obtained a shareholding in the power station as well.
This in turn opened the way for his milling proposition and the result of this initiative was the Vereeniging Milling Company.
Marks was also keen to exploit the large clay deposits under the coal seams and started an operation to make firebricks. Although the quality of the clay was very good the venture initially failed to get off the ground. However, once again it proved correct in the longer term as the project was later revived and grew to become Vereeniging Brick and Tile Company, now Vereeniging Refractories.
A feature of this plant in the early days was a 150 foot high chimney which dominated the Vereeniging skyline. During the latter stages of the Anglo_Boer war, an adventurous employee, Bob Eadie, climbed this structure to watch an engagement between the retreating Boer forces and an advance guard of the British Army. However, Eadie's initiative
was not really rewarded because the British troops took him for a sniper and promptly went into action. When a shell hurtled past him, Eadie lowered his profile in record time.
The Anglo Boer War caused mining and farming operations to be scaled right down as there was plenty of action around Maccauvlei and gunfire could be heard in the mine offices from time to time. In the second half of 1899, coal mining