Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce says people opposed to mining in Northland cannot go on saying ''no'' and then asking where all the jobs are.
Mr Joyce was speaking at an event in Whangarei while an anti-mining group protested outside.
The minister said jobs will be created in mining, and the only question is whether Northland wants to go on sending families to western Australia - or have them employed at home.
He said those objecting to mining in the north also bemoan high unemployment and poverty levels.
Mr Joyce said the challenge is to allow mining and create jobs in New Zealand, while still protecting the environment.
He said the community, including objectors, has a part to play in that, through the resource consent process.