In an important ruling for aggregate properties, the Oregon Court of Appeals reversed the Josephine County Circuit Court regarding a reservation of mineral rights in a deed recorded in 1954. The deed reserved “all minerals” and “the exclusive right to mine.” An aggregate company later acquired the property, but not the mineral rights, and argued that the reservation of mineral rights did not include sand, gravel, and other materials used for construction. The county judge agreed with the aggregate company.
On appeal, the mineral rights holder insisted that “minerals” include stone and rock, such as basalt. The Court of Appeals noted some ambiguity in the mineral rights, but decided the reservation was for the benefit of the person holding the mineral rights, and therefore accepted that holder’s view of the case: that the mineral rights reservation included common rock such as basalt.
The takeaway is that when disputing a reservation of mineral rights, it is a stretch to say basalt rock is not a mineral, and when disputing a property right, the holder of the right gets the benefit of the doubt.
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