Mineral lands for hard rock mining, oil and gas extraction, and coal mining may be under the control of private land owners, or it may be under governmental control. Obtaining the right to explore the lands and exploit the minerals lands can be complex. Federal and state laws and regulations are entwined with the process.
Land related issues are often emotionally charged because of environmental concerns, compensation for the use of land, and because mineral rights are often severed from the surface estate.
The acquisition of mineral lands happens through many pathways including leasing land from governmental agencies; the staking of unpatented placer and lode mining claims; and purchase or lease of private land. Many of the conflicts that arise from mineral land acquisition can be resolved through negotiation and mediation.
Mineral rights can lead to wealth, but also to the change in use of land that may have been owned by the same family for generations. Friction can result from the unique characteristics of mineral rights, including:
- the right to use as much of the surface as is reasonably necessary to access the minerals
- the right to further convey rights
- the right to receive royalties, advance and bonus considerations, and delay rentals
Mediation is a particularly attractive way to resolve disputes that relate to mineral lands because it allows the parties to work out long-term mutually-agreeable solutions that can heal and preserve relationships. For example, when mineral rights and surface rights are severed conflicts can erupt, but the mineral rights and surface owner are intrinsically tied together because they each have an interest in the same land. It makes life much nicer if the parties can settle disputes out of court so they are not perpetually angry because of an unsatisfying ruling by the court.
About Mediation: Careful listening and studious attention to the issues allows the mediator to help craft mutually-acceptable agreements that satisfy the most fundamental needs and wants of each party. Complex mediations encompass far more than compromise. Success also involves careful preparation combined with creativity and a positive focus on the goal. Chris Hahn, Ph.D., MBA
About the mediator:
Dr. Hahnís blending of education and experience has uniquely qualified him to mediate mineral land disputes. He worked directly in the natural resource industry as a landman for Conoco and as the Manager of Mineral Lands for Homestake Mining Companyís exploration division. In these roles he worked directly with land acquisition and leasing, water rights, environmental assessments and planning, corporate partnerships, and public relations. He always made every effort to use a balanced and fair approach when interacting with land owners and community stakeholders. He is a former member of the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Association.
He managed and personally participated in the acquisition, maintenance, and leasehold payments on many thousands of acres throughout the Western United States. He enjoyed establishing relationships with land owners, working with attorneys, with government agencies, and with corporate partners.
His educational training provides him with a technical vocabulary, competence in the process of scientific reasoning, and interpersonal insight into human behaviors. He has a Bachelorís Degree in Geology, Masterís Degree in Business Administration, and Ph.D. in Human Services (mental health focus).