The world may have already produced the most gold in a year it ever will, according to the chairman of the World Gold Council. 

Production is likely to plateau at best, before slowly declining as demand rises, especially given global political risks and robust purchases by consumers in India and China, Randall Oliphant said in an interview Monday. 

“It’s not clear how the whole US political system will play out,” said Oliphant, an industry veteran who’s been an executive at some of the world’s biggest gold miners. “All this uncertainty seems very fertile ground for people to get into gold.” 

Prices could climb to as high as $1,400 an ounce in the next 12 months, and top record highs in the “medium term,” Oliphant said at the Denver Gold Forum, the 28th annual gathering of mining executives, hedge funds, bankers and analysts that attracted about 1,100 attendees. 

Gold futures in New York settled at $1,311.50 on Monday and reached a record $1,923.70 in 2011. 

Oliphant’s concerns over peak production echoed similar comments at the conference, being held this year in Colorado Springs. David Harquail, chief executive officer of Franco-Nevada Corp., said earlier Monday that the gold industry continues to be in an ex-growth phase where new mining projects are simply replacing older assets that are running out of ore. 

“We’re not going to fall off a cliff in the near term, but in the same time it’s really hard to see how we’re going to produce enough gold to meet all this demand,” Oliphant said.