By Nelson Banya
HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's mineworkers have called off a strike, a union official said on Monday, ending a protest that paralysed the country's gold mines that are still battling to recover from a decade-long economic crisis.
Associated Mineworkers' Union of Zimbabwe (AMWUZ) president Tinago Ruzive told Reuters that workers had ended the strike to pave the way for court action.
"The strike has ended, we have told all workers to report for duty tomorrow," Ruzive said. "The labour minister has directed us to go to the labour court for redress and we will get a hearing on Thursday".
The 25,000-member AMWUZ began a strike last Wednesday to press for a monthly minimum wage of $496, up from the current average of $120.
The industrial action hit the gold sector hardest. Zimbabwe's biggest gold miner, Metallon Gold, said the strike could cost producers up to $8 million.
The country's platinum mines, owned by Impala Platinum's local unit Zimplats and Aquarius' Mimosa, were not affected by the strike.
Mining has overtaken agriculture as Zimbabwe's main foreign currency earner, after President Robert Mugabe's seizure of white-owned farms to resettle landless blacks triggered a sharp decline in farming output.
Industry officials said the strike was a setback for mines, most of which only recently re-opened after closing in 2008 because of hyperinflation, a skewed exchange rate and frequent power cuts, officials said.
Finance Minister Tendai Biti has said the sector will grow by 40 percent in 2010, due to mines re-opening.
At its peak Zimbabwe used to produce 2,400 kg of gold per month but recorded a low of just over 3,000 kg for the whole year in 2008.