The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals recently addressed a mineral conveyance issue in Tunnelton Cooperative Coal Co. v. Belmont Resources, LLC. The case involved the interpretation of language from a 1901 mineral severance deed. The grantors owned one-third of the coal and 100% of all other minerals underlying the tracts. The deed specifically granted the “all the coal and other minerals” underlying the tracts. A clause in the deed, however, stated that the parties understood that the grantors only intend to convey “one-third of all coal and other minerals” underlying the tracts and included a recitation of acreage that was exactly one-third of the total acreage. At issue was whether the grantors intended to convey one-third or 100% of all the other minerals, thereby excepting and reserving for themselves the remaining two-thirds.
The Court concluded that the language in question did not clearly contain any exception or reservation of any mineral interest. In order to create an exception or reservation which would reduce a grant in the conveyance clause that was clear, correct and conventional, the reservation must be expressed in certain and definite language. The Court concluded that the grantors intended to convey one-third of the coal and 100% of the other mineral interests. In divining the parties’ intent, the Court also considered the fact that there was no record of a tax assessment of any coal or other minerals in the grantors’ names after the conveyance.