The price of gold in the first half of this year is expected to average $1,640 per troy ounce, according to the Thompson Reuters GFMS Gold Survey 2011.

Philip Klapwijk, Reuters' global head of metals analysis, also said Tuesday in presenting results of the survey that the estimate of gold's average price in the first six months of this year is a conservative one.

The metal's price increased by 28 percent in the past year, but fears over the Europe's debt and its residual effects on liquidity, the U.S. dollar and people's attitudes about risk, could make the metal's price waver. 

We've seen a great deal of attention on the eurozone debt crisis, which has led some to seek out the dollar and U.S. Treasuries as a least bad option, Klapwijk said. However, the re-emergence of U.S. concerns, in particular any apparent need to adopt (quantitative easing 3), could really fire up the gold market. After all, don't forget that gold's price spike last August/September followed on from the U.S. debt ceiling impasse and downgrade.

Despite their strength last year, gold prices could struggle in the short term, according to GFMS report, but Klapwijk said the metal's performance this year should be as strong as it was in 2011, or better.

The average price should rebound and reach as high as, or exceed, the $2,000 mark by the end of the year or as late as 2013, Klapwijk said.

But that might not last, the report said, with gold's prices expected to drop off from their now 10-year bull run.

The report does acknowledge that the gold market is nearing the closing stages of its decade-long bull run and that, once the macroeconomic backdrop changes and investment in gold fades -- probably some time next year -- a secular retreat in the price will unfurl, said the report.

In afternoon trading Tuesday, the price of gold for February delivery on the Comex rose $24.80 to $1,655.60.