(REUTERS) -- Gold miners expect the price of the metal to continue climbing in 2012, with most respondents expecting a peak around $2,000 an ounce, according to a survey of gold companies by consultants PwC.

In a report published on Monday, PwC said 80 percent of those surveyed expected the gold price to increase, with only 6 percent forecasting a decline. The expected peak was set by respondents at between $1,350 and $2,500 an ounce, below last year's forecasts, which had been as high as $3,000.

Spot gold was trading at around $1,640 on Monday.

The survey - which included respondents representing 26.5 million ounces of gold mined in 2011 - showed gold miners were frustrated that the rising gold price has not impacted shares as much as expected.

One reason is the increased range of financial instruments, such as exchange traded funds, that allow investors exposure to gold without incurring the strike, cost and political risks associated with direct investment in mining firms.

Whatever the strategy, companies need to find ways to allow investors to win in a more direct way, if gold prices continue to increase, PwC said in the report.

Mining companies have increased dividend payments and have become more creative in structuring dividends, with Newmont and others announcing they would link the gold price and dividend increases.

Dividend payments were up 44 percent from 2010 as at the end of November, the survey said.

The survey said some gold companies had even considered paying dividends with physical gold.

Mining companies will also continue to invest their cash in acquisitions, although only 40 percent said they expected to replace reserves through deals.

As of the end of November, deal volumes in the gold mining sector were up 12.6 percent, the survey said. But values were down more than 38 percent on the previous year, as most deals focused around larger companies launching bids for smaller, exploration-based firms.

PwC said it expected share price premiums in acquisition deals to remain high through 2012.