The Australian Workers' Union has warned protecting Tasmania's Tarkine region from mining would condemn the area to "permanent economic and social disadvantage".
Environmentalists are campaigning to place the Tarkine on the National Heritage Listing and stop mining projects from expanding in the region.
There are close to 60 exploration licences eyeing the area, including tin miner Venture Minerals, which says its Mt Lindsay mine will create around 1,200 new jobs.
Lobby group GetUp has joined the fight against development and claims mining companies want to "destroy" part of the world's second largest intact stretch of rainforest.
In a statement today AWU national secretary Paul Howes said he had met with workers in the region who felt their livelihoods were at risk.
“Workers told me they are fed up with the constant efforts by mainland environmental activists to damage their industries and wreck their jobs,” he said.
“They are frustrated by claims that resource industries cannot co-exist with conservation, when the Tarkine area has already been responsibly mined and forested for over 120 years."
Howes said Tasmania "desperately" needed the new jobs that would come with the expansion of the mining industry.
He also said conservationists had created an "urban myth" about the "so-called pristine wilderness of the Tarkine".
Government heritage advisers past and present have claimed the region contains important cultural and environmental assets that need to be protected from industry.
Image: The Habitat Advocate