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You Can Sell Your Mineral Rights in the US

People who own land in the US are lucky; they not only own the surface land but they also own the mineral estate (or mineral rights). In other countries such as Great Britain, the general rule is that the government owns mineral rights.

Mineral rights are a form of real estate that is distinct from surface land rights. It is the legal prerogative of the owner to exploit whatever materials found under the surface, which may have commercial or industrial value. These materials may be organic such as oil or inorganic such as gemstones. In most countries, the financial benefits from these materials pass on to the state. The exceptions are the US and Canada.

A landowner in the US owns the surface land as evidenced by a land title or deed. Typically, the mineral rights are part of this deed unless it has been severed. Severed mineral rights means that the rights of ownership for the surface land is distinct from that of the underlying surface. If the owners of these are two separate people, the surface landowner has no right to any profit that comes from the mineral rights.

A landowner may have no clue that the land under the homestead, farm, or empty lot contains a fortune in things like metal, oil, natural gas, coal, stone, salt, or gemstones, but you can be sure that those who make it their business to know do. Speculators will frequently offer to buy the mineral rights of land in areas identified as a hot spot for valuable minerals, so that is a good sign that you can sell your mineral rights for a good price.

However, the only real way to exploit these riches is to mine them. That is usually a non-starter unless you are already in the business of doing that. Mining is by no means a simple or easy undertaking; you will be better off selling your minerals rights rather than trying to do it yourself.

You can sell your mineral rights to whomever you please and for whatever amount you want. However, if you have no idea of what you are doing, you should consider consulting with professionals before committing to a sale. You could be signing away your mineral rights for much less than you should.