Representatives of Impala Platinum mine management and the National Union of Mine Workers (NUM) have agreed to end the violent strike which had dragged on for weeks. Management and the union held talks on Wednesday afternoon.
"The re-engagement process gained significant momentum and by close of business around 13 500 people had re-applied for their jobs. This number includes more than 3000 rock drill operators," Implats said in a statement.
It added that it hoped that this signalled the end to the violence and intimidation which has characterised the strike. According to reports, three people were killed in violence involving dismissed workers, while scores were injured in violent intimidation. Over 100 people were arrested for public violence.
The company said it had resolved to fill open positions over the next few days; returning employees will be given preference on a first come first served basis over new applicants, and will receive their old benefits and terms and conditions.
"If we receive more than 15 000 applications, we will keep a recall list and as soon as opportunities become available, those on the list will be prioritised," mine management said.
Implats had previously only agreed to rehire 15 000 of the 17 200 dismissed workers.
The company's main focus now will be to return to normal operations as soon as possible. "We hope to start phasing in production from Monday 5 March, following safety inductions and medical screening for all returning employees."
The mine had fired 17 200 workers after they refused to return to work earlier this month, despite a court interdict declaring a strike illegal.