Mineral Rights 101: A Guide to Everything that You Own Below Your Property

If you bought your property in a fee simple estate, that means that you own your surface rights as well as what lies below your property. For those that are new to mineral rights, we’ve put together this quick guide to help you understand what exactly you own.

What are Mineral Rights?

Mineral rights are a property’s ownership rights of any resource that is found beneath the surface of the earth. Mineral rights can only be owned by individuals in a few countries around the world, including the United States.

Do I Own My Mineral Rights?

Usually, mineral rights ownership is defined in relation to surface rights. Surface rights, as you can imagine, entitle the owner to the surface and structures on the land.

The two most common forms of land ownership are fee simple and split estates. In a fee simple estate, you own every asset in the property from subsurface rights to the air above your house. In a split estate, the property rights can be sold to another person or group of individuals. Check your deed to see the specific information on your mineral rights ownership.

Things that You Own with Your Mineral Rights

Mineral rights designate the ownership of valuable resources such as oil, gas, gold, silver, copper, iron, uranium, etc. In order to extract and sell these minerals, most people choose to sell or lease their mineral rights to an oil and gas company. Here, the oil and gas company would need some access to your property’s surface to explore and obtain the resources.

Things that You DO NOT Own with Your Mineral Rights

Of course, it can get a bit complicated when trying to define what “resources” you actually own. Typically earthy materials (like sand, limestone, gravel, etc.) belong to the surface rights owner. Likewise, even if the water is in the plot’s subsurface, water rights are typically owned by the property’s surface rights owner.

Image Credit: Joel Deluxe/via Flickr

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