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The separate title to the minerals is retained in perpetuity and the statute of limitations does not run against these rights unless there is an actual adverse holding which constitutes an invasion of these particular rights. Such is the unanimous view in all the authorities which hold that there is a right of separation and separate conveyance. The title to minerals beneath the surface is not lost by nonuser nor by adverse occupancy of the owner of the surface under the same claim of title, and the statute can only be set in motion by an adverse use of the mineral rights, persisted in and continued for the statutory period.
Appellant grantor reserved the mineral rights in its deed conveying the surface rights to the appellee grantee. The grantee later claimed that the grantor had failed to timely explore the land for oil and gas, so the grantee sought to cancel the reservation clause and have the title to the mineral rights quieted in him. The trial court entered a judgment for the grantee. Appellant grantor sought review of the decision.
Could the appellant’s rights over the mineral be forfeited by the failure to timely explore the land for oil and gas?
On appeal, the court held that the trial court improperly applied the law. The court held that the reservation clause was actually an exception because the grantor clearly intended to retain title to all of the mineral rights. The court held that the mineral rights, which were severable from the surface land, could not be forfeited by a timely failure to explore the land. The court further held that absent the grantee's adverse use of the mineral right for the statutory period, he could not claim title to the mineral rights by adverse possession.