Iron ore and gold have been the traditional staples underpinning Australia's commodities industry but lesser-known lithium could soon take over the mantle.
Atlas Iron, an iron ore explorer, is one miner gradually gravitating towards the commodity dubbed the "white petroleum" for its silver-white appearance.
Speaking to CNBC on the sidelines of the Resources' Rising Stars Conference on Wednesday, Atlas Iron's managing director David Flanagan hinted that a tie-up with a lithium producer may be in the cards.
"We're not going to become a lithium player but if there's an opportunity to get value from that for shareholders, we'll do the right sort of deal."
Fresh from a major restructuring operation that involved halving its debt, Atlas announced in its May investor presentation that it held "prospective tenure in zones of known world-class lithium-tantalum deposits" in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.
"It turns out we've got a lot of tenements near companies with high-value lithium projects. It also turns out that some of that lithium also appears on our grounds," said Flanagan. "Lithium is going to be an important commodity for the world's future."
Australia is already the world's biggest producer of lithium, followed by Chile and Argentina.