UPDATE 1-China's Meijin bids $457 mln for Australia miner Western Desert
* Shares soar as much as 17 percent to a 3-month high
* Falling share prices open up possibility for M&A return
* Offer at 26 percent premium to Western Desert's last close (Adds details, shares)
SYDNEY, Sept 18 (Reuters) - China's Meijin Energy Group has bid A$435 million ($457 million) for diversified miner Western Desert Resources Ltd, marking a possible return of appetite for Australian miners as falling commodity and share prices open up bargains.
The offer of A$1.08 per share is a 26 percent premium to Western Desert's last closing price. It sent Western Desert's share price up as much as 17 percent to a three month high of A$1.
"This offer from a major Chinese corporation represents excellent value for shareholders," Western Desert's chairman Rick Allert said in a statement.
Iron ore and coal prices near three-year lows have savaged share prices of Australian miners and delayed or derailed almost $15 billion worth of deals in the resources sector.
Western Desert shares, which hit a three-month low in August, jumped nearly 60 percent from the start of last week on bid hopes.
Meijin's interests span coal mining, coke production and steel making. It is developing a 4.2 billion tonne coal project in the Galilee basin in Queensland state. Western Desert's portfolio includes iron ore, gold, base metals and uranium, it said.
Western Desert has 321.1 million outstanding shares and is due to another 19.6 million shares as part of a rights offer. It also has 61.5 million unlisted options that be exercised bringing the total outstanding shares to 402.23 million, it said.
The offer comes after Japan's Mitsui Matsushima Co Ltd Monday agreed to help fund a coal project being developed by NuCoal Resources Ltd.
Last week a Singapore-based firm offered to buy out an Australian Resources fund. ($1 = 0.9521 Australian dollars) (Reporting by Narayanan Somasundaram; Editing by Michael Urquhart) (email@example.com; +61 2 93731815; Reuters Messaging: firstname.lastname@example.org)