Can surface rights be sold for development, and then be developed, without buying my mineral rights?

I own absentee mineral rights in an area of surface rights currently being sold for very high prices. Several months ago, my surface owners asked to have me GIFT my mineral rights to them so that they could sell their surface. I declined for obvious reasons and they made me no offer to purchase my mineral. I have just discovered that, not only have they now sold the surface to a very large development company, but there is a huge building already under construction taking up 98% of the acreage (this portion of my minerals covers about 34 acres). I would have no way to develop my mineral on this tract with the size of this building and this area of my mineral interest is an island from other mineral interests I own in the area. Do I have any recourse? Can this sale of surface and development occur without transferring my mineral interest to the seller and then to the corporate buyer? Can I enjoin the building? If not, how do I get paid for my mineral rights? I am trying to get an attorney involved, but wanted to see if there are any general words of wisdom. This portion of my mineral is in Kentucky in an area with only some very minor historical oil and gas activity (there is however a long range possibility for some possible shale oil and gas activity and even some traditional mineral development, as there are some small producing traditional oil and gas properties within a few miles). However, my mineral probably has very little current value (but I am checking with a Geologist). Thanks for any words of wisdom.

Usually the mineral owners retains the right of ingress and egress to develop/enjoy the mineral rights. Im not sure how that works in Kentucky but in Oklahoma its pretty standard.


When an oil company wants to lease and drill your minerals, they can any time with horizontal drilling.

Bob Malone, Malone Petroleum Consulting


As a geologis, engineer, and mineral economist, I get involved with 4-6 similar situations per year. To measure the validity of your various forms of recourse, you need to know the following:

  1. The exact language of the deed that separated the minerals from the surface.
  2. Laws of mineral abandonment in your state.
  3. Regulations for mineral exploration and development in your political subdivision and exactly when the regs were instituted.
  4. If the surface developer borrowed money for the project that is government backed,

Those principle subjects will tell you if you have been taken advantage of unfairly by the developer. If so, a geologist that can help you project the future potential of your minerals based on new technology may be necessary.

Gary L Hutchinson

Minerals Managment