The United.States is one of the few countries in the world where the ownership of mineral resources can lie with the landowner. In most other countries a company or individual needs permission from the government to extract and sell any mineral, regardless of whether they own the land where the mineral is located. Laws regarding the transfer of mineral rights, mining and drilling for minerals differ from state to state. In Oklahoma a person can own the surface rights to an area but not the mineral rights, as the two are considered separate under state law.
Things You'll Need
- Geologist's report
- Land deed
Visit your local county courthouse to establish who owns the surface rights and/or mineral rights to your land or the land you are interested in leasing. It is essential to understand the laws of the state when considering leasing mineral rights or mineral extraction. Courthouses are open to the public but the county clerk must be contacted first in order to check the records. If ownership is still not clear, contact a local attorney.
Contact a geologist to assess the value of the minerals in your land if you want to lease your mineral rights. This can be costly as geologists usually charge by the hour, but may be worth it as their report can be used when negotiating the financial terms of the lease.
Hire a landman to assist with the process if the minerals involved are oil or gas. Landmen are experts in state property law so can establish ownership if you have had any problems translating county court documents. Once this has been established, the landman will then execute mineral leases.
Request a bonus payment at the stage when leases are being drafted. This is a payment to the owner that means the land is reserved for a certain amount of time. If nothing is accomplished by the mining company during this time, then the rights to the land and minerals return to the original owner. Hire an attorney to go through the lease that is being offered before anything is signed. A lease gives a mining company the chance to test the ground to find out the type, amount and quality of minerals present to determine if it's in their best interests to buy the land.
Use the geologist's report on the value of minerals contained in your land to negotiate royalty payments. Royalty payments are a percentage of the production income the company makes so if no minerals are found or no work is done the lessor receives no royalty payments. The standard payment is usually 12.5 percent, however, if you know your land is desirable to a company, you can negotiate higher percentages.
Tips & Warnings
- Hiring a geologist can be expensive, so it may be worth contacting the state's geology department for advice on how to find out for yourself the mineral content in your land.
- Photo Credit Oilfield Pump Jack in Texas Oil Patch image by Doodlebugs from Fotolia.com Gold Nugget image by roger from Fotolia.com
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