In most countries, organizations and individual people cannot own mineral resources, and the government must grant them permission before they can extract and sell oil.
Fortunately for people of the United States, this is not the case. The United States allows for complete private ownership, meaning they can obtain surface and mineral ownership, and the trade of property is virtually unregulated. The term for this is fee simple estate.
Surface ownership is when you own what is on the property. Mineral ownership is when you own the minerals below ground. Many people just interested in owning the property as an investment will sell their mineral rights to mining companies. There are some cases where owners only sell the rights to mine certain minerals. The buy and sell process has a lot of flexibility in order to meet the owner’s needs.
Something to consider when selling mineral rights is that if you only sell mineral ownership and keep surface ownership, the mineral owners are allowed to come on your property at any time and remove resources. The surface owner also has no say in how the resources will be removed and how or if the property will be restored. Most of the conflict between mining companies and surface owners stems from disagreements during the mining process. Although the money mining companies pay to mine usually compensates for any sort of damage they may do, this is still something to consider if you are thinking about selling mineral rights.
When the owner and a mining company are unsure of what their business partnership may have in store, owners sometimes lease their mining rights for a temporary amount of time instead of selling the rights. If the mining company does not start production by the time the lease is up, all of the property rights go back to the owner.