Mineral Right Ownership Basics:

Mineral Rights are a very unusual asset to own. The United States is one of the only countries in which its citizens have the right to own minerals. In most other countries in the world, citizens own the surface rights to a property, and the government owns the minerals.

Mineral Rights in the United States were gifted through the homestead act of 1862. This Act gave every US citizen the opportunity to own 160 surface and mineral acres known as “Fee Simple Absolute,” with the contingency that those citizens agreed to occupy and improve the land through farming for a period of five years. This Act was instituted to promote expansion and settlement into the Western United States, paving the way and providing the famous adventures of our forefather settlers. After the settlers upheld their agreement, the government granted them their land in the form of fee simple absolute ownership (rights from the core of the earth to the top of the atmosphere).

As settlers moved from their homesteads, they often sold their homestead to others, sometimes selling their surface rights and retaining their minerals (severed mineral rights). It is common today to see people that own the surface, but don’t have mineral right ownership and vice versa.

Mineral Rights Property Descriptions:

In order to properly describe your mineral rights and make conveyances, you must understand the different survey systems used. Those different survey systems are referenced below and should help you determine how to properly describe your mineral rights. The improper description of mineral rights is often the most common form of title failure. Use the data provided by us as a reference, and please contact us if you have questions. We can assist in helping you with understanding how the different survey systems work in the United States.

 Different Types of Land Descriptions:

  • U.S. Rectangular System:
  • Metes and Bounds
  • Sectionalized Descriptions
  • Lot and Block

U.S. Rectangular System:
–  Used to describe mineral rights in all states west of the Mississippi River, excluding Texas.

– Townships cover mineral right descriptions North to South

–  Ranges cover mineral right descriptions East to West
–  1 Township = 23,040 acres

–  A section includes 640 acres net & gross or 1 square mile

–  1 acre= 43,560 sq. ft.

Diagram of Township/Range:

Mineral Right Ownership