The school trust owns 3.5 million acres of mineral rights in Minnesota, consisting of 2.5 million acres of unified surface and mineral estate and one million acres of severed mineral rights (severed mineral rights exist when the state retained its rights to all minerals when selling the surface rights of a parcel of land).
A recent inventory process identified just more than one million acres of trust land with a highest and best use as mineral estate lands.
The trust's mineral interests—royalty and land rental payments—account for approximately 80 percent of historic school trust revenues. Iron ore and taconite mining remains the major source of revenue for the trust.
In addition to iron ore/taconite mining, school trust minerals development and exploration include stockpiled iron ore extraction, non-ferrous (non-iron) metallic minerals (copper-nickel, gold, platinum group metals), industrial minerals (dimension stone, silica sand, diamonds), construction aggregates (sand and gravel), and peat mining .
DNR’s Division of Land & Minerals
is responsible for managing the trust's mineral resources, including negotiating and drafting leases, conducting mineral lease sales, monitoring and verifying minerals removed from school trust lands, and collecting and accounting of revenues.