Mineral ownership

Q: Who owns Minnesota's minerals?

A: Mineral ownership in Minnesota has a long and complex history, and there are many different variations on mineral ownership. Sometimes the mineral rights associated with a tract of land (under it, in it, or cropping out on it) are owned by the owner of the surface. In other cases, the mineral rights have been separated from the surface ownership and retained by, for example, a former owner. Generally, land ownership transfer documents, such as deeds, indicate ownership. These records are contained in each county's land records office.

The State of Minnesota is the largest single owner of mineral rights, controlling around 24% of all rights and managing these for the benefit of the permanent school and university trust funds and local taxing districts. The vast majority of minerals in the state, however, are owned by private parties.

To learn more about mineral ownership from a legal perspective, download Mineral Rights Ownership in Minnesota This is a PDF file. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to download it. (61Kb).

Q: Do I own the minerals on or under my land, or does someone else? How can I find out?

A: Ownership of surface rights does not necessarily indicate ownership of minerals in, on or under the surface. If you are interested in the mineral rights for a specific parcel of land, check the legal documents that record transfer and ownership for the rights associated with that land. These records are contained in each county's land records office.

To learn more about mineral ownership from a legal perspective, download Mineral Rights Ownership in Minnesota This is a PDF file. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to download it. (61Kb).

Q: I understand that earnings from state-owned mineral rights benefit the Permanent School Fund, Permanent University Fund and local taxing districts. What are these?

A: DNR Division of Lands and Minerals manages the mineral rights held by the state for the benefit of the Permanent School Fund, Permanent University Fund, and local taxing districts.

Trust funds

The trust funds contribute financial resources each year to all public school districts and the University of Minnesota. When Minnesota was created as a territory in 1849, sections 16 and 36 of every township were reserved for the purpose of benefitting the schools in the territory. In 1851, at the request of the territorial legislature, the U.S. Congress reserved from sale 72 sections of land for the support of a university in the territory. A permanent fund was created for the money from the use and sale of these lands. The principal of the fund is preserved, and only interest earned on the fund may be used each year.

To learn more about these funds, read The Permanent University Fund This is a PDF file. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to download it. or check the Legislative Auditor's Office report School Trust Lands: A Program Evaluation Report This link leads to an external site..

Local taxing districts

Benefits to local taxing districts come through the Division of Lands and Minerals' management of tax forfeited mineral rights. These are mineral rights that have reverted to state ownership through non-payment of taxes. There is no specific trust fund for this revenue; instead, 20 percent of these mineral revenues go into the state's general fund, while 80 percent is divided between the county, town/city and school district.