Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Jan Wright is calling for the Department of Conservation to be able to make money from mining.
In a report to Parliament on the Government's plans to expand mining on unprotected conservation land, Dr Wright recommends mines should have to generate what she calls a net conservation benefit.
At present, mines must compensate for the damage they cause, but pay nothing to access the land.
Other commercial activities such as adventure tourism pay the department for the right to operate.
Dr Wright says the department should not only be compensated, but should receive an income from the mining operation.
She also recommends that all signficant proposals should be publicly notified so affected communities can put their views.
Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson says she will look at the idea of charging mining companies for access to public land.
She says she is looking at getting more income on a case-by-case basis, but would not say if she would support a law change to allow the department to charge for land access.