POMEROY - A West Virginia mining company plans to develop coal mining operations in Meigs County later this year. Gatling Mineral, L.L.C., of Beckley, W.Va., plans to mine coal from reserves purchased from American Electric Power in Lebanon, Letart and Sutton townships, according to Dick Skidmore, who oversees local land management for the mining company. Skidmore said Gatling Mineral is a small company and prefers to keep a “low profile” in discussing its future plans, but Skidmore confirmed the company's plans to mine coal here and ship it to undetermined destinations from the Ohio River. Those plans, Skidmore said, are in the “fetal” stages, while the company completes development of a coal mining operation on U.S. 33 in Mason County, W.Va., adjacent to the Phillip Sporn plant. Skidmore said Gatling owns coal reserves found on 17,000 acres in Mason County, W.Va., and plans to mine coal there, presumably to serve the Sporn and Mountaineer plants owned by AEP. He said he did not know the scale of reserves owned by Gatling in Meigs County, but said the reserves here cover a larger territory than those across the river. Skidmore dismissed reports that the operation includes plans to convey coal either under or over the Ohio River by means of a conveyor system. He said preliminary investigation into that means of transporting coal revealed it was not cost effective. He said the company will use river barges to transport coal out of Meigs County to other locations. “There will be more movement on the Meigs County project by the end of the year, but work now is concentrated on the Mason County project,” Skidmore said. He said the company is now accessing the coal seam at the Mason County site in preparation for mining there. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources, which issues permits for coal mining operations, has not issued mining permits to Gatling or any other firm for a Meigs County operation, according to information provided by the Meigs County Economic Development office.