Are Mineral Rights Personal Property?

Did you know that America’s mineral mines generated more than $90 billion in revenue last year? So while the mineral rights you own for your property may not earn you billions, you can at least receive a handsome royalties passive income. 

Unfortunately, most people do not consider trading their lucrative assets due to the complex nature of mineral rights ownership. But, if you conduct thorough research regarding your mineral rights and sell to the highest bidder, you can generate a steady passive income. 

For starters, you should have basic information about mineral rights and how to use them. So, are your mineral rights your personal property? Read to find out.

Are Mineral Rights Personal Property?

In most countries, people can only own the surface rights to purchased property, while the state will own any resources beneath the level. However, citizens of the United States can own the rights to minerals and any natural resources found under the land they own. 

If a person owns mineral-rich land in the U.S., he also has the right to mine or extract it through other means and generate revenue. But here’s where things get complicated. 

Not all people have the investment, resources, and motivation to mine valuable natural resources from their property. In this case, they can sell their mineral rights to companies and corporations that would extract the resources and pay them a share of the revenue. 

This revenue share is usually referred to as royalties passive income and is determined according to the property’s location and the resource’s ongoing price. 

In a nutshell, the owner of a piece of land usually owns everything else attached to it, including roads, buildings, fences, trees, water and minerals. Therefore, all these are classified as their personal property. 

But, as mentioned, mineral rights can be sold separately from surface rights, which makes them stand apart from other commodities in the property vicinity. 

Difference Between Mineral Rights and Surface Rights

If you find these concepts confusing, you’re not alone. Mineral rights ownership involves complex clauses that can become difficult to navigate. However, you should first know that your property is divided between two parts: your surface rights and your mineral rights. 

As the term suggests, surface rights include the right to land on a property. This includes the ground your home is built on and your backyard, garage, and porch. 

By owning the surface rights to your property, you can build any structure, plant any trees, or conduct any landscaping activities. But, if you solely own surface rights without mineral rights, you cannot fund drilling activities in your backyard to mine for minerals. 

For such activities, you’ll need to acquire mineral rights to the property, which means owning the minerals and resources below the surface. Usually, surface rights and mineral rights are sold together in most locations across the US, and both are included in your personal property. 

Furthermore, if you do not want to mine or extract resources from your property, you can sell your mineral rights individually while retaining surface rights. Then, the company or organization you sell your rights to can conduct exploratory activities and extract any resources found beneath. 

Do I Own All The Minerals Beneath My Property?

If you own both the surface rights and mineral rights to your property, the ground and the resources beneath it are your personal property. Therefore, you can extract, exploit, and earn revenue through the minerals as you wish. 

However, there are a few inclusions and limitations in this of ‘minerals’ that you might not know about. Therefore, you should know which minerals your mineral rights include to avoid future mishaps. 

Usually, the minerals you own within your mineral rights include, 

  • Oil
  • Natural gas
  • Gold
  • Silver
  • Mercury
  • Coal
  • Semi-precious metals such as aluminum and copper
  • Other rare elements

While you will own these resources and materials if found beneath your property, there are some limitations to mineral rights as well. The substances that you will not own within your mineral rights include, 

  • Water
  • Sand
  • Limestone
  • Gravel

Thus, you can mine for valuable resources and even sell the rights to extract them, but you cannot legally extract or sell the few substances mentioned. 

How To Sell Mineral Rights Separately For Royalties Passive Income?  

Just like any other personal property, you can sell your mineral rights separately while withholding other rights to your property. However, to initiate the process, you will have to figure out the extent to which you hold the rights to your property. 

Mainly, the rights of an estate are held in three forms, a unified, severed, or fractional estate. In the case of a unified estate, the owner owns the mineral and surface rights together and cannot sell them separately. 

On the other hand, in a severed estate, the ownership is divided. Therefore, there can be two separate owners of the mineral and surface rights to the property. Similarly, if yours is a fractional estate, you might only own the rights to certain minerals beneath the surface. 

Thus, it is essential to study your ownership deed thoroughly to know how much of the property you own before attempting to sell it. 

You must go for a property conveyance to separate mineral rights from surface rights. In the conveyance process, you can either retain the rights to the surface and sell the mineral rights or vice versa. 

Similarly, if you’re planning to sell your property entirely, you can still convey the mineral rights to one party and the surface rights to another. 

Remember, attributing to the various complexities in the process, you might need help to tell which rights you own to your property and to which extent simply by looking at the deed. That’s why you should consider consulting a professional when planning to sell mineral rights separately for royalties’ passive income. 


In a nutshell, your mineral rights are your personal property that allows you to conduct certain activities on your land that other owners might prohibit. 

As the mineral rights owner, you can drill or mine for any resources you suspect exist under your property. These include various materials such as oil, gas, and metals. Besides, you can simply sell your rights to a third party if you want to avoid taking all the trouble. 

This organization or company can extract the resources from your property and help you earn passive income royalties.