Chinese gold and copper miner Zijin Mining Group Co Ltd expects gold prices to reach $1,900 per ounce by the end of 2011, as the U.S. dollar is likely to weaken further, Chairman Chen Jinghe said on Wednesday.

"With the U.S. dollar continuing to weaken, gold prices are bound to set new highs," Chen told reporters at the company's interim results briefing. "It is quite likely for gold prices to reach $1,900 per ounce by the end of the year."

Spot gold prices on Wednesday hovered near a lifetime high around $1,778 per ounce struck in the previous session, but further gains could be capped by a rebound in equities after the U.S. Federal Reserve's vow to keep interest rates near zero.

Zijin, China's top gold producer, said on Wednesday that net profit rose 24.87 percent year on year to 3.149 billion yuan ($489.69 million) in the first half, with gold accounting for 66.9 percent of the figure.

Zijin processed 1,084,470 ounces (33.73 tonnes) of gold, including gold mined by itself and gold from other mining companies, in the first half, down 8.12 percent from a year earlier.

The company produced 44,956 tonnes of copper in the first half, down 4.75 percent from a year earlier. Zinc production dropped 1.23 percent to 109,152 tonnes.

Chief Financial Officer Lin Hongying said the company had earmarked 5 billion yuan for the acquisition of gold mines in places such as Australia and central Asia this year. She did not elaborate.

Zijin said in April that it had not lost interest in Australian miner Indophil Resources NL and was watching takeover developments of the junior miner. ($1 = 6.431 yuan) (Reporting by Viola Ho; Writing by Polly Yam; Editing by Charlie Zhu)