Gold miners return to work
Thousands of gold miners returned to their shafts after a pay deal to end the wave of strikes that halted production of the precious metal in South Africa, operators say.
AngloGold Ashanti and Harmony Gold reported large worker turnout, but production will take a few days to resume as safety procedures need to be carried out first.
"AngloGold Ashanti is pleased to report that most workers have started returning to the three West Wits mines this morning," the company said in a statement.
Harmony reported that by end of Thursday 98 percent of its workers had returned and was checking whether the remaining two percent had proper excuses for still being absent.
"We will only be in full production most likely towards the end of the weekend. We will only see our first production shift on Sunday evening," Harmony spokeswoman Marian van der Walt told AFP.
At AngloGold Ashanti's Mponeng, TauTona and Savuka mines, "focus now is on preparing these operations to ramp up production safely," the company said.
For those who have not yet returned, AngloGold Ashanti said the dismissal process is proceeding. It did not give numbers still staying away since the strikes in the gold mine sector started last month.
On Thursday the gold mine owners and unions inked a pay deal to end months of often violent labour unrest that has cost the South African economy at least $1.2 billion.
The work stoppages have halted production at numerous leading mines in the country's vital sector, with strikers spurred on by a wage increase of up to 22 percent won by Lonmin platinum miners in August.
The Lonmin strike left more than 50 people dead, in the worst spasm of violence to hit South Africa since apartheid ended 18 years ago.