Mineral rights in Texas are privately or federally owned. In the case of private ownership, the rights can be held by the same person who owns the surface rights or by an individual or corporation who purchased the rights from a surface rights owner. Mineral rights ownership information is found in a property’s title, which is found on a property’s warranty deed.
Obtain a copy of the property’s warranty deed. A warranty deed is held by the property’s owner and the county courthouse. If you are the property’s owner, you should have a copy. If you are not, go to the local county courthouse to retrieve one.
Look in the reservation section of the warranty deed for a note that says something along the lines of "mineral rights will be sold with the property." If you find such a note, then the current surface rights owner will also hold the mineral rights. If there is no such note, proceed to the next step.
Look in the “Title Policy Schedule” section of the Warranty Deed, under schedule “A” and schedule “B” “Vesting.” Look for a reference to “surface rights only.” If there is such reference, a previous owner reserved the minerals to the property.
Repeat Steps 1 to 3 on previous warranty deeds until you are able to determine mineral rights ownership. Start with the immediately previous warranty deed and proceed backwards until you are able to ascertain mineral rights ownership.
A property’s title is held by the outright owner of the property, which means the owner does not have a mortgage. It also is filed with the county courthouse, which stores years and years’ worth of title documents. Many property owners are required to purchase title insurance when applying for a mortgage. The title insurance policy document should mention who holds the property’s mineral rights. To obtain the property’s title, you will have to visit the county courthouse in the locale of the property you are researching.
Determining mineral rights is a complicated and time-consuming process. If you are lucky, mineral rights ownership will be listed on the current warranty deed. When you go to the county courthouse to begin your search, make sure you set aside a considerable amount of time. If you have trouble determining mineral rights ownership by yourself, you can consult a professional landman (see Resources). Landmen are experts at interpreting the legalese in title documents. They generally charge a per diem fee for their services.
Lea Clark is a geologist who began writing in 2001. She has written countless articles covering everything from mining to environmental remediation.