The unrest has, however, showed signs of easing in recent days. AngloGold Ashanti Ltd., the world's third largest gold bullion producer, said in a statement Wednesday that its Mponeng mine in South Africa had returned to normal operations after earlier violence there.

Striking workers at Amplats faced a deadline Wednesday to return to work, but shafts remained empty. Workers gathered under umbrellas early that morning near two mine shafts to listen to their leaders describe a wage offer involving a one-time 4,500 rand ($500) payment, as well as either a monthly pretax allowance of 600 rand ($70) or a pretax salary increase of 400 rand ($45). Workers had asked for 16,000 rand (about $1,800) in monthly pay.

It remained unclear if the deal would be accepted, though many acknowledged that the weeks of striking had begun to take a toll.

"We'll look for the percentage of the majority," Mdoda, the labor organizer, said. "If the other shafts, maybe the four of them they are saying we are taking the offer, the three must withdraw and join the others just because if you can't beat them you must join them."

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Jon Gambrell can be reached at www.twitter.com/jongambrellAP .

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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