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What should a landowner know about mineral rights?

On Behalf of | Sep 21, 2023 | Real Estate Law

Did you know people have found gold in New Hampshire? The State Department of Environmental Services admits small mines did dig up a fair amount of gold in the 1860s but today there are only small qualities remaining.

If you own land in the state, you may not need to worry too much about someone striking gold on your property, but you should understand the basics of mineral rights. This can be a complex topic, but it is essential to know the basics.

Mineral rights explained

Mineral rights grant individuals or entities the authority to explore, extract and profit from minerals found beneath the surface of a piece of land they own or have leased. Mineral rights are separate from surface rights.

When someone owns a piece of land, they may possess both the surface and mineral rights. Surface rights pertain to everything on the land’s surface, such as buildings, crops and other visible assets. Mineral rights concern the subsurface and grant the holder the ability to access and utilize the minerals found underground, which can include oil, natural gas, coal and metals.

Severing mineral rights

You can sever mineral rights from surface rights through various transactions. It is possible this happened before you bought the property. If so, it means you own the land but not the rights to the minerals beneath it. Because people can buy, sell, lease or inherit mineral rights independently of the land itself, it can lead to a complex web of ownership.

Mineral rights are a distinct set of property rights. When buying or leasing land, it is essential to clarify whether the mineral rights come with the transaction and to understand the potential implications for land use and compensation.