A question that we frequently get from recreational property buyers is about mineral rights, because many people don’t understand exactly what mineral rights are.
Having mineral rights means that you are legally entitled to explore, extract, and sell any valuable metals or minerals that may be beneath your tract of land. In Idaho, it’s typically hard rock, like gold, silver, or lead.
But this isn’t always simple. In some cases, you may only be able to buy surface rights to the land, which is really just that – ownership of what is on the surface. Water beneath your land is completely separate and can have the same complex rights as minerals. In other cases, a previous owner may retain some or all of these rights. Or those rights may belong to the government.
The laws in each state with respect to minerals are the result of a long history of exploration and local approaches to owning or selling mineral rights. So what should you do to figure all this out? Talk to your real estate broker, and also do some online research. A good place to start is http://www.mineralrightsforum.com.
Jim Lemieux, Potlatch Land Manager – Idaho