(1) ' Mineral rights are property rights that confer upon the holder the right to exploit an area for the minerals it harbors. Ownership of mineral rights is the right of the owner to exploit, mine, and/or produce any or all of the minerals lying below the surface of the property. The mineral estate of the land includes all organic and inorganic substances that form a part of the soil.' -- Wikipedia.
(2) Selling a mining company the rights to whatever minerals might lie beneath your land is a "Shylock's bargain" because in selling your "mineral rights you agree that the mining company has the legal right to destroy all your property above the ground while the miners dig down to where the minerals supposedly are. If only William Shakespeare's Portia* were a real woman lawyer, she would get the miners' case thrown out of court lickety-split -- as is only right and proper, considering how idiotic and truly insane the notion of "mineral rights" really is. And yet, it unbelievably is the law of this great country of ours, where EVERYONE is said be equal, NOT just the billionaire owners of mining companies. -- Dinkum
' "Don't matter if you care," the old miner said, "if you don't own what you care about." He pointed out that the mineral rights to the entire county in which they sat were owned by the Rosewater Coal and Iron Company, which acquired these rights soon after the end of the Civil War. "The law says," he went on, "when a man owns something under the ground and he wants to get at it, you got to let him tear up anything between the surface and what he owns."
' The truth was that Rosewater . . . had been among the principal destroyers of the surface and the people of West Virginia. '
-- From Kurt Vonnegut's 1973 novel Breakfast of Champions -- Chapter 14 (page 125 - 126).
1973 KURT VONNEGUT, JR. Breakfast of Champions, or, Goodbye Blue Monday.
* NOTE: Portia is a character in William Shakespeare's play The Merchant of Venice.
PLOT SUMMARY: ' Antonio agrees to guarantee the loan needed by his friend Bassanio. But Antonio has already made an enemy of Shylock, the moneylender, who will only agree to lend the sum to Antonio upon one condition: if Antonio is unable to repay the loan at the specified date, Shylock may take a pound of Antonio's flesh. When Antonio's friend is unable to pay off the loan by the agreed upon date, Shylock takes Antonio to court, asking the judges to enforce the terms of the loan. Shylock means to exact his pound of flesh, and he very cleverly intends to cut out enough of Antonio's heart as would satisfy the terms of the loan -- and kill Antonio in the process. In court, Antonio's lawyer is a woman in lawyerly disguise, who just happens to be Portia, lover of Bassanio and friend of Antonio. Portia deftly appropriates Shylock's argument for 'specific performance', and points out that the contract only allows Shylock to remove the flesh, not the "blood", of Antonio. Thus, if Shylock were to shed any drop of Antonio's blood, his "lands and goods" would be forfeited under Venetian laws. Further damning Shylock's case, she tells him that he must cut precisely one pound of flesh, no more, no less; she advises him that "if the scale do turn, But in the estimation of a hair, Thou diest and all thy goods are confiscate." ' -- Wikipedia.