Miners see gold price hitting $2,000 this year
Gold will soar to $2,000 (€2,398) an ounce this year, according to industry insiders.
The overwhelming majority (80pc) of gold mining executives think the price will keep climbing in 2012, with just 6pc anticipating a fall, a survey by PwC found.
Last year, mounting fears over the eurozone crisis helped the "safe haven" metal hit $1,900 in September.
Since then it has swung between $1,570 and $1,795, with two big falls blamed on squeezed investors liquidating their gold holdings to raise cash at a time of stress.
Many analysts believe that the ongoing economic uncertainties mean the price will keep climbing, albeit with further swings expected.
While the industry predictions for where the price will be by the year end clustered around the $2,000 mark, the range – from $2,500 to $1,350 – underlined this volatility.
Some may argue that miners have a vested interest in keeping hopes for the gold price high, but the survey showed that the industry is acting on its expectations. Producers have raised the average gold price they use in their long-term mine planning 20pc on the previous year.
Last year, surveys saw the participants underestimate the extent to which gold would rise in 2011, as they expected it to peak at $1,500.
A $2,000 gold price would still be below the inflation-adjusted high the metal reached in 1980 of about $2,500 an ounce, following the oil price shock in the wake of the Iranian revolution.
The survey also flagged up the discrepancy between the price of the metal and the shares in gold mining companies, which have not enjoyed the boost traditionally seen when the metal's price rises.
The blame lies partly on the rise of new financial products such as exchange-traded funds (ETFs).
Gold producers are increasingly planning to put aside more cash to dividend payments to attract investors, with some even considering paying their dividends in gold, the survey found.