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POINT PLEASANT, W.Va. — The site for a planned coal facility is a private 194-acre tract along the Ohio River near the Mason County Airport north of Point Pleasant, West Virginia.

“Just past the Fruth Pharmacy headquarters, across the road from the West Virginia National Guard Armory on Route 62,” John Musgrave, Mason County Economic Development Authority executive director, said Thursday when describing the location.

Arizona-based Frontieras North America, a subsidiary of Frontier Applied Sciences, announced Wednesday that it will build a new facility in Mason County to produce a cleaner form of coal.

Aerial photos of the site show it sitting across the Ohio River from two coal-burning power plants — Kyger Creek and Gavin.

Rhonda Bonecutter, of Point Pleasant, works near the site at Camp Conley Mart and said Friday the recent economic development news is bringing hope to folks in Mason County.

“With the new steel mill and now this new coal facility, there should be more opportunities for a good job,” she said. “When it comes to career type of jobs, there are not many around here, so we need them.”

Bonecutter says she thinks the investments will also improve the roadways and the local schools.

“Nucor already gave $1 million to Mason County Schools, and hopefully the new coal facility company will do something similar,” she said.

Randall Chapman, also of Point Pleasant, was at a nearby Dollar General store and said the recent news of two large energy companies coming to the area and bringing hundreds of jobs is the talk of the town.

“Everyone around here is talking about it, but it almost seems too good to be true,” he said. “I mean, I hope they’re really coming here. It would mean lots of good jobs, they say, and we need good jobs around here bad.”

Musgrave said the company expects to use more than 2.7 million tons of coal annually.

“We showed them several sites, but they had to have a river site that also had CSX rail running through it,” Musgrave said. “This allows them to bring in coal by rail or by river and ship products by rail or river as well.”

Musgrave said the Mason County Economic Development Authority has been working with the company for the past two years on finding the perfect location.

“They needed rail, river, highway and developable land,” he said.

Musgrave said a private entity that owns the site has accepted the company’s offer, but the transaction is not complete.

“There are still a few things that need to be done to complete this land transaction and everyone is doing their due diligence at this time, but I don’t anticipate any problems,” he said.

Musgrave said the county has worked the past five years to develop site-ready locations to attract large businesses.

“What attracted them to Mason County is the same things that attracted Nucor here,” he said. “Utilities, river, rail, highways, transportation and even our airport. They will be able to bring in customers if they wish.”

In its announcement, the company touted Mason County’s “easy access to raw materials, a skilled workforce, as well as roads, Class 1 freight rail, and the Ohio River for import and export of feedstock and FASForm products” as reasons for selecting West Virginia over Texas and Wyoming after an exhaustive research process. It also said the Mason County plant will be its first FASForm plant, which uses a new technology to make coal burn cleaner in power plants.

“This is a new technology that is patented in 30 different countries,” Musgrave said. “While it may be new technology, we have no concerns regarding it.”

Musgrave said the company told him in preparation for its fist commercial site it tested coal on five different continents.

“They want to use West Virginia coal as its feedstock because they said the best coal is in West Virginia,” he said.

Frontieras said its patented technology, Solid Carbon Fractionation (SCF), “reforms coal, waste plastics and hydrogen production by extracting volatiles, moisture and contaminants.”

“This new validated process, applied to the energy market, results in the delivery of FASForm liquid and gas offerings, as well as a cleaner version of coal known as FASCarbon that will be leveraged by the steel industry,” the company said in its announcement.

The company said it plans to complete construction of the plant and be operational by the fourth quarter of 2023.

“They have also indicated they could possibly locate their headquarters here in the future,” Musgrave added.

Fred Pace is the business reporter for The Herald-Dispatch. Follow him at Facebook.com/FredPaceHD and via Twitter @FredPaceHD.

Fred has been in the newspaper industry for 30+ years. He continues to be excited to bring readers news that only comes thru local journalism. “Being able to share the passion felt by entrepreneurs in our community with readers is exciting,” he said.

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