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Cooperative Multiple Mineral Development Agreements—A Nuts and Bolts Approach

Phillip Wm. Lear, Proceedings of 43d Annual Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Institute (1997)

The term multiple mineral development conflicts defines the operational juxtaposition of owners and operators of diverse minerals in the same lands. Related terms include concurrent or simultaneous development. The common denominator is the concurrence of operations in the same lands.

In the macro sense, conflicts arise when stratigraphically separated mineral deposits are subject to concurrent or simultaneous extraction or in the context of commingled or associated minerals, as with methane gas in coal seams. Resolution of the former requires balancing of land use priorities. Resolution of the latter requires determination of ownership before contending with multiple use questions. In the micro sense, conflicts arise when one hardrock miner prosecutes his lode mining claim within the boundaries of a placer claim, when an oil and gas operator drills for black gold on lands leased or operated for yellow gold, when surface miners compete for access with underground miners, when oil and gas operators drilling for coalbed methane are cited for violations of the coal mining statutes and regulations, or any combination of the foregoing. The issues of ownership, access, and damages are common to any analysis of multiple mineral development conflicts.

The past two decades have seen a proliferation of literature addressing concurrent mineral operations in the same land