Vango Mining (ASX:VAN) was a crowd favourite in 2018.

In fact, Vango outperformed almost every resources small cap — #3 on our list – to finish the year up 200 per cent.

The explorer wants to join the ranks of Australian gold producers on the back of its high-grade Trident deposit at Marymia, in the mid-west region of Western Australia.

Earlier this month Vango hit ‘bonanza’ gold intersections at Trident of up to 184 grams per tonne.

Today, the explorer released a resource upgrade – 410,000oz grading 8 grams per tonne — which it calls the “first major milestone” to becoming a producer.

To put that in perspective, a deposit above 5 grams per tonne can be considered high grade.

Investors liked the news sending the stock up about 10 per cent to 18c in early trade.

The company says it will now “fast track” the planning and the approvals process so it can get mining ASAP.

Drilling at Trident is ongoing, the company says, targeting further high‐grade gold resources in the area.

And there could be a few more resource upgrades on the way, because Vango has tested just 20 per cent of the 5km-long Trident‐Marwest‐Mareast gold corridor; one of six identified gold corridors at Marymia.

The company was contacted for comment.

READ: Global gold output hits record highs, but Australia is about to fall back into the pack

In other gold news today:

Middle Island Resources (ASX:MDI) says newly discovered gold targets will boost  plans to restart production at the explorer’s Sandstone project in WA. All targets, within 2.5km of the 600,000tpa Sandstone gold processing plant, lie underneath a “significant blanket” of transported sheetwash cover that has discouraged previous exploration.

There’s another 18 targets (many of which are higher priority) yet to be tested, the company says.

South Australian Alliance Resources (ASX:AGS) reckons it has a solid, high grade gold project on its hands at Weednanna. A scoping study estimated that it would cost about $44m to get started (that includes, processing plant, tailings dam, and pre-strip).

The resource isn’t the biggest at 181,000oz grading 5.1 grams per tonne, but the company says the gold remains open and depth and along strike “and there is significant potential to increase the existing mineral resources”.