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Mineral Rights

With the rising costs of oil and gas, mineral rights have become more valuable and landowners across the country are being wooed to lease or sell their mineral rights that have become hot commodities.

Property owners usually own both surface rights and mineral rights in a fee simple estate, but a title to a property can be transferred, bought and sold, with only the surface rights going to the new owner while the mineral rights remain with previous owners.

  • This is a common practice in areas that are known to hold valuable mineral deposits such as oil and gas.

Mineral rights are an integral part of property ownership. It gives the owner of the rights the right to remove the minerals from the land. The owner of the rights may lease, sell, transfer as a gift or bequest, and/or hold the mineral rights in a trust.

Deposits of prized minerals are known to exist throughout the world and much of it is still untapped. They include:

  • Fossil fuels--oil, natural gas, methane, hydrogen, coal, peat
  • Metals--gold, silver, copper, tin, iron, uranium, zinc
  • Gemstones--diamonds, rubies, amethyst, quartz, jasper
  • Mineral rocks--gypsum, limestone, mica, feldspar, calcite
  • Soil and silt--sand, sandstone, salt, clay
  • Water

In most cases, the federal government maintains control of mineral leases on public lands for energy exploration and mining or drilling and the revenue from lease sales are returned, in part, to the state in which the leases exist.

State laws vary widely concerning the transfer of mineral rights from one owner to another and they regulate mining and drilling activities.

The status of mineral rights beneath your property can be determined by doing an ownership of mineral rights title search that involves researching the historical ownership of the property to locate any separation of the oil, gas, or mineral rights from the property ownership.

If there is a separation of mineral rights, it would have occurred as a part of a full property ownership transfer, but it may not necessarily be found in county records and it may not be found on your current property deed.

The documents which transferred the mineral rights is normally only indexed to the name of the person who owned the property at the time the mineral rights were transferred. To find who own the rights, a thorough search may be required.


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