Platinum producer Lonmin fears that sacking 3,000 striking workers at its Marikana mine in South Africa could lead to an escalation in violence, the company said on Tuesday.

Clashes between inter-union rivals, which started on Friday 10 August, has so far resulted in the death of 44 people, including workers and police personnel, and the majority of the 28,000 workforce continue to stay off work.

Lonmin executive vice-president for mining reportedly told a local radio station, "It won’t help anyone if Lonmin goes out and dismisses a whole lot of people for not coming to work today."

It will set us back significantly in terms of violence, in terms of building trust. We are not going to go out to actively try to fire anyone, but also there are consequences for someone who is not coming to work," said Munroe.

While some of the shafts reported up to 60% attendance on Monday, many missed the company’s extended deadline of Tuesday to report back to work.

In a statement release on Sunday, Lonmin confirmed that it has asked 3,000 illegally striking employees to return to work the following day, or face possible dismissal.

"An initial deadline of last Friday was extended by the company in the light of the tragic events of last Thursday. The legal ultimatum applies only to illegally striking rock drill operators and assistant rock drill operators who began an unprotected action on August 10th," the statement continued.

The violence and strikes have brought down the company’s shares by 13% in the last five days and resulted in the escalation of theprice of platinum to $1,492.99 per ounce, a two-month high, reports Reuters.