Mineral Rights

The right to mine a parcel of property can be separated from the ownership and other uses and control of that property. Mineral rights allow its owner to control the mining of a parcel of property for coal, gems, copper and other minerals.

A property owner can sell mineral rights while keeping the rest of her property. Similarly, the same property owner can sell the land while retaining the mineral rights to the property. The sale or transfer of mineral rights may impose limitations on how mining operations can proceed, especially if the owner of the rest of the property is still using the surface.

When a parcel of property is purchased, the mineral rights are normally included with the rest of real estate being transferred—unless it is explicitly stated that the mineral rights have been separated from the rest of the real estate transaction. When in doubt, check the county property records office. Any sale or lease of mineral rights normally must be recorded to be official.

The minerals involved can be precious gems, copper or coal. But it is rare for the mineral right to identify one mineral and exclude all others from being extracted. When mineral rights are transferred, it usually covers everything underground, starting at a certain depth and proceeding downwards.

For example, a farm owner may sell the mineral rights to his property and continue to farm the surface of the property. The miner who purchases the mineral rights is allowed to dig shafts into the ground and start removing dirt and minerals. As long as the miner's work doesn't cause a surface collapse or doesn't affect the farmer's ability to farm, this should prove to be a stable relationship.

Interestingly, many locales allow the miner to continue to own the subsurface rights even after all the minerals have been removed.

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