Thousands of miners clocked in for work at Lonmin's Marikana mine in South Africa Thursday morning after a wage deal was struck following a deadly six-week wildcat strike that left 46 dead.
Workers chatted loudly as the queue shuffled to the turnstile entrance for the 07:00 am (0500 GMT) shift at the mine's Rowland shaft, where they are to undergo medical checkups and orientation before going underground in a few days.
Many were happy about the pay increase, between 11 and 22 percent depending on worker category, that broke the deadlock after the strike started on August 10.
"We're happy to go to work. We got what we wanted," said Yandisa Mehlo, 37, though the London-based firm offered less than the miners' demands of 12,500 rand (1,200 euros, $1,500) basic salary.
"The strike is over now," said another worker, David Mgengwane, wearing a T-shirt with the word "Revolution" on the front.
"I'm happy too much! I'm a breadwinner, my family is going to be happy," said the 24-year-old, who supports his father and two sisters.
Others were less satisfied, but returned to work out of desperation after going without pay for over a month.
"I return to work because I'm so hungry," said Phumlile Macefane, 24.
"I'm unhappy because I can't get 12,500 (rand)," he said.
"My brothers are dead, were killed by the police."
Police shot dead 34 people on August 16, days after violent clashes between miners left 10 others dead, including two police officers. Another man was beaten to death last week, and a woman died this week after she was hit by a police rubber bullet on Saturday.
The mine, which had lain quiet during the strike, was a hive of activity on Thursday, with vehicles moving and buses filled to the brim bringing miners to work.
Police vehicles kept a discreet distance.
Though miners clocked in on Thursday, production is only expected to start in a few days.
Fresh violence, however, at Anglo American mines in northwestern Rustenburg on Wednesday raised fears that a wage deal at Lonmin had set a dangerous precedent for wage negotiations amid a flare of copycat protests.
"Anglo American Platinum has communicated to its employees the requirement to return to work by the night shift on Thursday 20 September, failing which legal avenues will be pursued," the firm said in a statement.
The ultimatum by the world's top platinum producer came after police arrested 22 people in protests after it had urged workers to return to five mines that were shut down over safety fears last week.
"They refused to disperse. Police had to revert to tear gas and stun grenades and there was also rubber bullets fired," police spokesman Dennis Adriao told AFP, about an illegal gathering of around 500 people at an informal settlement.