A mineral estate can be created by severing the surface rights from the underlying mineral rights. This can be accomplished either by a conveyance of the mineral rights alone, or by a conveyance of the surface estate, whereby the grantor reserves the interest in the underlying minerals. The legal result is two separate and distinct estates in land, subject to independent ownership and separate taxation, either of which may be conveyed or devised.
Until January 1, 1984, the Illinois statutes provided that dormant mineral interests would be deemed abandoned when there was no actual production of minerals and when the interest in the minerals had not been devised, sold, leased, mortgaged, or transferred by recorded instrument for a period of twenty-five years. Ill.Rev.Stat., c. 96½, ¶9211 (1982) As of January 1, 1984, a statutory provision was adopted by which, through court proceedings, the interests of unknown or missing owners could be terminated seven years from the date of judgment, based on the theory that the owner of the surface estate overlying the severed mineral interest is exercising presumptive adverse possession over the mineral interest. 765 ILCS 515/11. This seven-year period could be reduced to one year if the severance took place more than twenty years prior to the date of the filing of the original petition and other statutory requirements are met.