State Land Board v. State Department of Fish & Game

In State Land Board v. State Department of Fish & Game, 17 Utah 2d 237, 408 P.2d 707 (Utah 1965), the Court was called upon to determine whether statutory language "reserving to the State of Utah, all coal and other minerals" included the reservation of sand and gravel. Id. at 707. The Court began the analysis with the observation that "in its broadest sense, the term 'minerals' would include sand and gravel." Id. at 708. However, the Court stated that "in order to divine the true meaning in any given usage," it is necessary to look to both the context in which the term is used as well as the "intended purpose and means of accomplishing it by the proper application of the language used." Id. Since the term "other minerals" was juxtaposed with the term "coal," we reasoned that "other minerals" referred to "something of the same general character as coal or minerals which are usually the subject of prospecting and mining." Id. Because the earth's surface is largely composed of sand and gravel, including much of the Rocky Mountain region in which the relevant land was situated, we concluded that to construe the statute to reserve to the grantor the right to extract these ordinary materials would operate "to completely nullify the grant." Id. Given this unreasonable result, we held that the term "mineral" was not intended to include sand and gravel, "either in the instant case or under usual circumstances." Id. at 708-09.