Do you know what mineral rights are? What about surface rights? Perhaps you’ve heard of both but are unaware as to what each really are and what the differences between the 2 are. Either way we are going to get into each one in this article and hopefully by the end you’ll be a little wiser when it comes to this subject.
To help us with these piece we enlisted the service of the brilliant Adam Johnson, an expert in this field and a man who used to work in mineral acquisitions for Ferrari Energy. Without further ado then, let’s get into it.
What Are Mineral Rights?
Mineral rights are the ownership of the below the surface contents of a piece of land. These rights entitle the owner to dig, excavate and take ownership of any minerals which are found deep underground. Generally these are owned by the government but they can be bought, and they can slo be sold if prices go up. Mineral rights are what large scale companies will buy ahead of a fracking campaign or something similar. Once bought the government will normally add something into the contract which gives them a percentage of what is found underground.
What are Surface Rights?
Surface rights is what we generally consider to be land ownership, and it is quite literally the ownership of the surface of the land. In most cases the owner of a property or of land usually only has surface rights rather than mineral rights and most home owners do not have ownership of the mineral rights below the building. When it comes to adding structures underground which will support the building on the surface of the ground, this is not seen as a breach of mineral rights ownership, if anything of value is found when the foundations are being installed, the surface rights owner has no claim to those minerals. You can obtain the mineral rights below your home if you so wish, but this will have to be done separately as in most cases they do not come with the purchase of the surface rights when you buy a new property.
The difference between these 2 sets of rights is very simple and that is that one gives ownership of the surface and above, the other gives ownership to the contents of the ground from the surface down. In some strange cases there can be a particular piece of land with the surface owned by one person and the mineral rights below it owned by another, which can create an issues should the mineral rights owner decide that they want to do some digging.
This is a fascinating area of the law which many people don’t realize, especially in terms of the fact that owning your own home, technically doesn’t give you the ownership of anything below the surface.