How Long Do Mineral Rights Last?

Most countries consider all mineral resources to be public property, so mineral rights belong to the state. This covers priceless minerals, rocks, oil, and gas that humanity could find on or deep within the Earth. 

Official approval is required in several nations before enterprises or individuals can harvest or sell any mineral products. 

In the US, ownership of mineral resources can belong to individuals or companies. Both “surface rights” and “mineral rights” can be possessed by the same or different landowners. The owners can lease the mineral rights to other entities to extract minerals. 

So how long do these mineral rights last? Is there a time limit to ownership? This article covers this important question. 

A Quick Summary of Mineral Rights

As a sort of property right, mineral rights allow the holder to extract valuable minerals from the earth, including coal, oil, and gas. 

The terms and conditions and the duration of the mineral rights are specified in the contract between the mineral owner and the lessee of the mineral lease.

Ownership of mineral rights entitles them to mine and produce minerals. However, the surface damage agreement can be broken and result in fines and the loss of mining rights.

Mineral rights owners may lease, sell, or transfer their mineral rights. This makes it possible for the rights to be handed to the following generation regardless of who owns the surface.

Mineral Rights in Texas

The surface estate and the mineral estate are two separate sets of rights, or “estates,” that come with property ownership in Texas. The same individual may formerly own these two estates, and they may still possess them jointly. 

However, in many parts of Texas, particularly those with significant previous oil and gas extraction, it is typical for the mineral estate and surface estate to be controlled by separate parties.

If an owner does not specifically restrict the transfer of ownership to the “surface alone” or explicitly keeps the minerals while selling the surface, the mineral estate they possess is automatically included in the sale.

Texas law maintains that the mineral estate is dominant, regardless of whether the surface estate and the mineral estate are owned by the same person or have been split. 

As a result, the owner of the mineral estate may freely use the surface estate to the degree that is logically required for the exploration, development, and production of the oil and gas under the property. If they violate the agreed-upon terms for surface damage, they may face fines and the loss of mining rights.

Important Terms to Know

While historically, the ruling class would have asserted its royal rights and claimed ownership of minerals through the division of the mineral and surface estate, landowners previously held land from the center of the earth to the air above.

Nowadays, dividing a property’s mineral rights from the actual plot of land is standard procedure. There are four main categories of mineral rights:

  • Mineral Interests – Several kinds of mineral interests grant ownership of underground mineral rights. Shut-in payments, which are frequently used in the oil and gas sector, are royalties that the lessor receives from the oil and gas firm in exchange for continuing to hold a lease on currently unproductive mineral assets.
  • Oil and Gas Rights – These rights are difficult to identify by a specific well or geographic region because of the fluidity of oil and gas. Faults and joints make it simple for oil to flow through, which allows reserves to reach the subsoil of nearby parcels of land. The term “fugitive resources” refers to these fluid minerals that migrate freely across different properties and may be mined from any property where they do so.
  • Oil and Gas Royalty Rights – These rights are owned by investors who get regular royalty payments from their investment in mineral rights. Once the minerals are extracted from the leased land, the owner receives a portion of the revenue.
  • Surface Rights – Surface rights only grant ownership rights to the surface’s minerals. They do not cover rights to subsurface mineral rights.

How Long Do Mineral Rights Last?

The ability to access and extract the minerals they possess is normally one of a mineral owner’s rights. This might imply that the mineral owner has the right to mine or drill an oil or gas well on your land. 

Roads and other infrastructure required for mineral extraction are frequently authorized to be built by the mineral owner. The rights of the mineral owner may occasionally be limited by the conditions of the mineral rights transfer.

Mineral rights typically last as long as the minerals are removed from the ground. This indicates that the rights are potentially permanent and will last until all the minerals are used up. 

Yet, many mineral rights contracts have deadlines or restrictions that limit the rights’ validity. For instance, a lease agreement can provide a certain number of years during which the mineral rights holder is permitted to mine the property. 

The rights might expire or be renegotiated at the conclusion of the lease period. The lease may have a provision allowing the lessee to extend their ownership of the rights.

It is essential to remember that legal and regulatory considerations may also impact the lifespan of mining rights. 

For instance, changes in property ownership or environmental rules may affect the capacity to mine the land’s minerals and, consequently, the lifetime of mineral rights.

Generally, mineral rights leased to another party may last anywhere from a year to 20 years. 


In the US, it is feasible for private persons to buy the property and to own the rights to develop and utilize it, including any natural resources located under its surface. 

Investors with knowledge of mineral rights can invest in one of the world’s largest privatized mineral rights markets, which has well-established environmental and mining rules and a track record for mining safety and training.

Ranger Land and Minerals is always available to professionally answer your inquiries concerning mineral rights and offer extensive knowledge. We will assist you in making the best choice and maximizing the value of your mineral rights and royalties.