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Acquiring Rights to Minerals Associated With or Contained in Oil Shale

Harry R. Anderson, Proceedings of 13th Annual Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Institute (1967)

Issues are presently under consideration within the Department of the Interior in connection with pending applications for sodium preference right leases. Other issues will ultimately come to the Department for consideration, when the validity of the mining claims recently located in the oil shale areas of Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah is tested. The Department has not decided these questions in the context in which they are presented by the pending lease applications and the mining claims. Any attempt to discuss them in an authoritative manner would be premature and possibly unfair to the applicants and claimants, or to the public, which has a large stake in the outcome of our deliberations. This is, in essence, an exploratory discussion. Other questions and problems will come to light as time goes by and more is learned about oil shale.

The topic, and the broader question of acquiring rights to minerals contained in or associated with deposits of leasable minerals other than oil shale, is relevant to a whole range of factual and legal situations. Much of the recent intense interest in this sort of problem has come about because minerals were reportedly found in the oil shale of the Piceance Creek Basin of Colorado by sodium prospecting permittees and mining claimants. At the present time, over 1.1 million acres in the three oil [234] shale States are either included i