What are Mineral Rights? And Who Owns Them?

What Are Mineral Rights?

Mineral Rights: the rights to the natural resources lying below the earth’s surface. Any transfer of land may be accomplished with or without the transfer of the subsurface rights. Normally, the term “mineral” is considered to include almost anything of value found under the earth’s surface. However, the term ordinarily does not include commonplace materials such as soil, sand, gravel, clay, and water.

In the United States the law creates a difference between surface rights and mineral rights. Surface rights include the right to build or farm on the land while mineral rights include the right to mine the property.

The United States is one of the few nations that allow private ownership of underground mineral resources. When reserved the owner of the mineral rights can then enter into contracts and agreements to mine and extract the minerals which may or may not include royalty payments to the surface owners.

Now, Who Owns Them?

Starting in April of this year (2013) the FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation) has begun to reserve mineral, oil, and gas rights in any real property it conveys in the US. This new policy applies to all FDIC owned residential and commercial property except for condominium units and real property valued at $50K or less. The FDIC’s closing instructions will have an addendum addressing the reservation requirement and require the deed to contain the reservation.

If you wish to purchase the mineral rights from the FDIC you may do so, however, a specific price must be negotiated for the rights separate from the rest of the property.

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