High Court to Say Whether Country Rock Forming the Surface of Ranch Lands Is A Mineral Reserved By the State

The New Mexico Supreme Court will hear an appeal by a ranch owner over whether the State, in reserving all minerals when it granted a surface estate to the owner’s predecessor, included within that reservation country rock known to be widespread across the surface of the ranch. The appeal is from a recently published Court of Appeals decision that went against the ranch owner despite amicus support from the New Mexico Farm and Livestock Bureau. One judge of the three-judge panel strongly dissented.

An issue the high court may consider is whether a factor or presumption in the analysis of the parties’ original intent in dividing up the surface and mineral estates, should be the notion the parties would not have intended to include widespread country rock in the minerals reservation since extracting the rock would effectively destroy the surface, as in the case at issue.

No hearing date has been set by the Supreme Court, but it is likely to occur sometime during 2012. For more information, please contact Stuart Butzier at srb@modrall.com.