Mineral rights are the rights to anything underground for a piece of land. Often the minerals are owned by someone other than the landowner. These underground minerals may be bought and sold in the same way as the surface of the property. To find the owner of a property's mineral rights, you may have to dig into the history of the property. Title companies only determine chain of ownership for the surface, so to find mineral rights, you'll need to visit the county archives or hire a company that specializes in such searches.
Study the property's legal description. Obtain the current deed of ownership. If minerals are not mentioned, that suggests that the rights to the minerals are not owned by the same entity as the land surface.
View the property in question. Oil pumping units or mining activity, even if it appears abandoned, suggest that the mineral rights have been actively purchased or sold. Rights can be passed on in wills or given to children. If the activity is ongoing, check with the production company for any information regarding mineral ownership. This may provide a starting point for research.
Seek out the property records from the county in which the property is located. With no mention of minerals in the current deed, a search must be conducted to determine when and to whom the mineral rights were sold or assigned.
Review the mineral deeds in the county archives. Mineral deeds in actively developed counties generally have indexes designated specifically for minerals. If no production or exploration has been done in the county, the mineral deeds may be combined with ownership records for surface rights.
Plot the ownership of the first mineral owner found, typically listed in the patent deed (the first deed of record). Write their name, the date of the deed and the percent of ownership at the top of a sheet of paper. Continue research to find who the mineral rights were sold or assigned to next. Continue in this manner until you find the current owner. Often there are multiple owners with varying percentages of interest.
- Hiring a mineral rights search company can expedite the process, but it can be costly.
- Oilfield Pump Jack in Texas Oil Patch image by Doodlebugs from Fotolia.com