The Institute of Economic Research says allowing mining on conservation land could boost national income by $550 a person each year.
The Government recently released a discussion document outlining plans to open up just over 7000 hectares of conservation land for mining.
The institute says a study it conducted in 2002 showed better use of mineral resources under conservation land could boost gross domestic product by 1.3% a year, depending on how much land is opened up to mining.
Based on current figures, that would equate to about $2.3 million of extra national income a year, or $550 per person.
The institute says the debate is hampered by a lack of facts, and it might be useful to undertake surveys to see how much mining tourists would tolerate before reducing their willingness to visit conservation estates.