JOHANNESBURG - Thousands of gold miners returned to their shafts on Friday after a pay deal to end the wave of strikes that halted production of the precious metal in South Africa, operators said. 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.