MINERAL RIGHT OWNERSHIP BASICS:
Mineral Right ownership is a very unusual asset to own. The United States is one of the only countries in which its citizens have the right to own minerals. In most other countries in the World, citizens own the surface rights to a property and the government owns the minerals.
Mineral rights in our Nation were gifted through the homestead act of 1862. This Act gave every US citizen the opportunity to own 160 surface and mineral acres, with the contingency that those citizens agreed to occupy, and improve the land through farming for a period of five years. This Act was instituted to promote expansion and settlement into the Western United States, paving the way and providing the famous adventures of our forefather Settlers. After the Settlers upheld their agreement, the government granted them their land in the form of fee simple absolute ownership (rights from the core of the earth to the top of the atmosphere.)
As settlers moved from their homesteads, they often sold their homestead to others, sometimes selling their surface rights and retaining their minerals (severed mineral rights). It is common today to see people that own the surface, but don’t have mineral right ownership and vice versa.