Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 45.2. Mines, Minerals, and Energy
Chapter 4. Presumptions Regarding Ownership
9/26/2021

§ 45.2-402. (Effective October 1, 2021) Presumption regarding use of underground space.

A. Except as otherwise provided in the deed by which the owner of minerals derives title, the owner of minerals shall be presumed to be the owner of the shell, container chamber, passage, or space opened underground for the removal of the minerals, with full right to haul and transport minerals from other lands and to pass people, materials, equipment, water, and air through such space. No injunction shall lie to prohibit the use of any such shell, container chamber, passage, or space opened underground by the owner of minerals for any such purpose. The provisions of this subsection shall not affect any contractual obligation or agreement entered into prior to July 1, 1981.

B. Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection A, with respect to the coal mineral estate, unless expressly excepted by the instrument creating the mineral ownership or lease interest, the owner or, if leased, the lessee of the coal mineral estate or its successor, assign, sublessee, or affiliate retains the right to any coal remaining in place after the removal of surrounding coal, as well as the right to use the shell, container chamber, passage, space, or void opened underground that was created by the removal of the coal.

1. Any such shell, container chamber, passage, space, or void opened underground that is within the boundaries of a mine permit issued under this title may be used consistent with state and federal regulations for any activity related to removal of coal from any lands for which a permit to mine coal has been approved, and no injunction shall lie to prohibit such use.

2. Any such shell, container chamber, passage, space, or void opened underground that is located in a sealed mine for which a mining permit no longer exists may be used consistent with state and federal regulations for any activity related to removal of coal from any lands for which a permit to mine coal has been approved only with the consent of the owner of such shell, container chamber, passage, space, or void. Such consent shall not be unreasonably withheld if the owner has been offered reasonable compensation for such use. In determining whether an offer of compensation is reasonable, a court shall be guided by the compensation set forth in other leases for the use of mine voids as is customary in the area.

C. No provision of subdivision B 1 or 2 shall (i) affect any provision contained in any contract in effect as of July 1, 2012, expressly prohibiting the use of any shell, container chamber, passage, space, or void opened underground that was created by the removal of the coal; (ii) alter any contract entered into prior to July 1, 2012, that provides for the payment of compensation from the lessee to the lessor expressly for the use of any shell, container chamber, passage, space, or void opened underground that was created by the removal of the coal; or (iii) have any bearing on or application to any determination of ownership rights in natural gas or coalbed methane.

1981, c. 291, § 55-154.2; 2012, c. 695; 2019, c. 712, § 45.1-161.311:10; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

The chapters of the acts of assembly referenced in the historical citation at the end of this section may not constitute a comprehensive list of such chapters and may exclude chapters whose provisions have expired.