LONDON (Reuters) - Safe-haven demand for gold driven by violence across the Arab world and concern over Japan's nuclear crisis could drive the price to new highs above $1,500 an ounce, according to African Barrick Gold.
"There is a reasonable basis for it sitting around the $1,400 mark. It may drive up toward $1,500 depending on a few factors, what happens in the Middle East and North Africa and what impact to the economy the latest issues out of Japan have," African Barrick Gold chief executive officer Greg Hawkins said at the Reuters Global Mining & Steel summit on Monday.
"But I think fundamentally some of the debt situations, the debt load in the U.S. and across Europe will continue to make people pretty nervous so that might drive short-term rises over this year."
The gold price, which hit a record $1,444.40 an ounce on March 7, has risen nearly 1 percent so far this quarter as unease over the outlook for global growth escalated after a wave of civil uprisings across the Middle East and after the earthquake and tsunami in Japan unleashed the world's worst nuclear crisis in 25 years.
African Barrick, a unit of the world's largest gold producer Barrick Gold Corp, expects to produce between 700,000-760,000 ounces of gold this year.