Divergent Mineral Rights Regimes: A Natural Experiment in Canada and the United States Yields Lessons
by John Dobra
April 15, 2014
The current state of mineral law and policies related to mining non-fuel minerals and public attitudes towards mining are substantially different in Canada and the United States. Yet, these two countries started out with the same laws respecting mining and mineral rights. US mineral law and policies have been developed in a much less ordered process than those in Canada. We found two key differences between the two mineral rights systems. The first is that in Canada, minerals are reserved by the provinces, while in the US minerals are either associated with surface ownership (primarily in the eastern US) or reserved by the federal government (primarily in the western US). The second is that in Canada, mineral rights are retained by the Crown or the provinces while in the United States mineral rights are privately owned. These fundamental differences in property rights yield differences in regulatory and tax regimes.