(a) If the title to any mineral interest is vested in an unknown or missing owner or an abandoning owner and it is proved that the development of the minerals would be advantageous to a prudent owner, and if it appears that the development of the minerals furthers the public policy stated in section one of this article, the circuit court of the county having jurisdiction under section three of this article shall have the power to appoint a special commissioner and authorize the special commissioner to sell, execute and deliver a valid lease of the mineral interest on terms and conditions customary in the area for the mineral interest to be leased. The lease shall continue in full force and effect so long as there are operations under its terms unless the lease has previously expired by its own terms.
(b) A petition to the circuit court for the appointment of a special commissioner may be instituted by any person who is:
(1) Vested with an interest in fee in the surface estate overlying the particular minerals sought to be developed; or
(2) Vested with an interest in fee in the particular minerals sought to be developed; or
(3) The lessee or the assignee or successor to the lessee, under a valid and subsisting mineral lease, the lessor of which is a person entitled to file a petition by reason of subdivision (2) of this subsection.