Most explorers start with proving up a resource before going about acquiring land and building infrastructure, but junior gold explorer Dateline Resources (ASX:DTR) is doing things a little differently.

Dateline owns about 2000 acres of freehold land that hosts three mines and historic gold workings in Gunnison County, Colorado.

The company also owns a permitted mill that it has commissioned and produced concentrate from.

The region is part of the “Gold Brick District” of the Colorado Mineral Belt, which has produced over 25 million ounces of gold.

However, no new significant exploration or precious metal mining has occurred in Colorado since the Summitville disaster of 1992.

Now Dateline has successfully placed 90 per cent of the shortfall from its recent rights issue, raising a total of $13.8m, it is  “well-funded” to get cracking on defining a maiden resource for its Gold Links project.

Although the company has not yet done enough work to define a resource, it believes the project has the potential to host high-grade mineralisation.

“The mill is sorted so we don’t have to do anything with the mill. What we’re going to do is use the money to prove up a JORC resource, that’s really it,” director Stephen Baghdadi told Stockhead by phone from Colorado.

“We’ve gone about buying this property and owning the freehold land and so on,” he explained.

“Typically, you would first prove up the resource and then go off and maybe buy the land, build the mill, do the feasibility study etc but we’ve gone about it the other way around.”

Mr Baghdadi said this has meant Dateline has de-risked the Gold Links project in just about every aspect, such as metallurgical testing and permitting, and the only thing left now is the resource.

“We’ve just got to go off and drill below the old workings, find the extensions to what was mined previously, try to solve the riddle to what controls these shoots and then as soon as we do, we’re in a position to produce because everything else is done,” he said.

Mr Baghdadi said it was definitely “a much quicker path to production”.

Dateline will soon start a 10,000m drilling program with the aim of delivering a maiden JORC resource in the December quarter.

JORC refers to the mining industry’s official code for reporting exploration results, mineral resources and ore reserves, managed by the Australasian Joint Ore Reserves Committee.

“Previous mining and exploration conducted over many years has established that Gold Links hosts extensive, shallow high-grade mineralisation,” Mr Baghdadi said.

“But this work has been conducted in a piece-meal fashion and the project has not been exposed to a widespread, systematic exploration campaign using modern techniques.”

Upping the skin in the game

Dateline’s chairman, Mark Johnson, must also think the company has something pretty special.

He recently upped his stake in Dateline to 18.06 per cent from 12.58 per cent previously by taking part in the rights issue.

Mr Johnson underwrote the rights issue to the value of $1.6m, taking his total commitment to over $3m.

The company’s largest shareholder, fellow explorer Southern Cross Exploration (ASX:SXX), also picked up more shares in the rights issue, and at one point held a massive 60.3 per cent of the company.

But Mr Baghdadi, who is also a director of Southern Cross, said in early February that despite Southern Cross’ large ownership of Dateline, there was no takeover on the agenda.

He noted at the time that Southern Cross’ shareholding would drop back to around 33.46 per cent with the placement of the shortfall.

There is still a shortfall of shares worth $700,000, but Dateline is confident that too will be taken up by investors.