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Aggregate Mining: Acquisition of “Minerals,” Mineral Reservations, and Other Mysteries

Patrick G. Mitchell, Wendy L. Anderson, Proceedings of 47th Annual Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Institute (2001)

More aggregate is produced in the United States, as measured by dollar value or by tonnage, than is any other non-fuel mineral.1 Moreover, the dollar value of the aggregate produced in the United States is equal to one-third of the total dollar value of the top 25 non-fuel minerals produced in the United States.2 For the purposes of this paper, aggregate mining refers to both sand and gravel river and alluvial deposits, as well as crushed rock quarry operations. Aggregate mining has increased to keep pace with recent population increases in many areas of the western United States.3

This paper discusses title and acquisition issues specific to the mining of aggregate on both private and public lands, and provides a guide to persons seeking to obtain the title to mine aggregate from a particular site. Section 12.02 provides a guide for determining who owns the aggregate. In doing so, section 12.02 discusses the impacts of private general mineral reservations, federal statutory reservations (the Stock-Raising Homestead Act,4 the Taylor Grazing Act,5 and the Coal Lands Act of 1910,6 reservations to the railroads,7 and the Indian Re-organization Act8), state reservations, and adverse possession, [12-5] upon the title to an aggregate source. Section 12.03 provides a guide for acquiring title to mine aggregate from a particular site, once a company identifies the current own