File image: Reuters

AngloGold Ashanti has yet to issue dismissal letters to 12,000 striking workers who ignored an ultimatum to return to their posts or be fired, spokesman Alan Fine said on Thursday.

He said the company was hoping further talks would help resolve the situation.

“Nothing has been handed out as yet, but obviously we are going to,” he said.

Three unions and AngloGold Ashanti, Harmony Gold and Gold Fields were scheduled to meet at the Chamber of Mines on Thursday, when a wage agreement for certain categories of mineworkers could be signed.

Fine said: “We're hoping for a positive outcome.”

The company issued an ultimatum to about 12,000 workers on strike at its Mponeng, Tau Tona and Savuka operations near Carletonville to return to work or face dismissal.

The workers missed the deadline of noon of Wednesday to be back at work, which entitled the company to start firing them.

Workers at another mine in the region, Harmony Gold's Kusasalethu, ended a strike that started on October 2, by returning to work in their thousands on Thursday ahead of a 6am deadline to avoid being fired.

AngloGold Ashanti reported lower-than-expected third-quarter gold production, primarily due to the continued labour unrest in South Africa, and lower than expected production at its Obuasi operation in Ghana, in a statement on Wednesday.

An unprotected strike across the three mines at its Vaal River region had ended. Workers at the Kopanang, Great Noligwa and Surface Operations returned to work on Monday. Those at Moab Khotsong, near Orkney, ended their unprotected work stoppage on Tuesday.

The unions in the Chamber talks are the National Union of Mineworkers, Solidarity and UASA and they might sign an agreement relating to clause 11 of a pay deal signed last year, but which lasts until mid-2013.

It is not the reopening of the wage agreement, but the finalisation of a separate clause dealing with certain job categories such as rock drill operators.

This was accelerated when mineworkers started going on strike in September in the gold sector, following their counterparts in the platinum sector, who started striking in August. - Sapa