(1) "Abandoning owner" means any person, vested with title to any interest in minerals, who is proved to have abandoned the interest, that is, to have relinquished any right to possess or enjoy the interest with the expressed intention of terminating ownership of the interest, but without vesting the ownership in any other person.
(2) "Development of the minerals" or "mineral development" means (a) mining coal by any method, or (b) drilling for and producing oil or gas by conventional techniques, or by enhanced recovery by injection of fluids of any kind into the producing formation, or (c) utilization of a gas-bearing formation as an underground gas storage reservoir within the meaning of article nine, chapter twenty-two of this code, or (d) production of other minerals by any method.
(3) "Interest in minerals" means any interest, real or personal, in coal, oil, gas or any other mineral, for which interest the property taxes are not delinquent as of the date of the filing of a petition under this article.
(4) "Surface owner" means any person vested with any interest in fee in the surface estate overlying the particular minerals sought to be developed under this article. A surface owner's rights under this article shall be subject to any deed of trust or other security instrument, lien, surface lease, easement or other nonpossessory interest in the surface owned by any other person; but such persons other than the surface owner shall have no right to notice and no standing to appear and be heard hereunder.
(5) "Unknown or missing owner" means any person, vested with title to any interest in minerals, whose present identity or location cannot be determined from the records of the clerk of the county commission, the sheriff, the assessor and the clerk of the circuit court in the county in which the interest is located or by diligent inquiry in the vicinity of the owner's last known place of residence, and shall include such owner's heirs, successors and assigns not known to be alive.
Note: WV Code updated with legislation passed through the 2015 Regular Session
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