77-3-322. Obligation to pay royalties under coal lease contract -- interest. (1) The obligation arising under a coal lease to pay coal royalties to the department, to deliver coal to a purchaser to the credit of the department, or to pay a portion of the proceeds of the sale of the coal to the department is of the essence in the lease contract.
(2) If the operator under a coal lease fails to pay coal royalties to the department within 120 days after the initial coal produced under the lease is marketed and within 90 days for all coal produced and marketed thereafter, the unpaid royalties must bear interest at the legal rate of interest authorized under 31-1-106 from the date due until paid. The operator may remit semiannually to the department the aggregate of 6 months' royalties if the aggregate amount is less than $50 and annually if the aggregate amount is less than $10.
(3) An action for failure to make payments under the lease or seeking payments under this section must be filed in the district court for the county in which the coal mine is located, and that court has jurisdiction over any actions brought under this section. The prevailing party in a proceeding brought under this section is entitled to recover court costs and reasonable attorney fees.
(4) This section does not apply if the department has elected to take the owner's or assignee's proportionate share of production in kind or if there is a dispute as to the title to the minerals or entitlement to royalties, the outcome of which would affect distribution of royalty payments.