* Offer at 59 pct premium
* Bannerman’s Etango project near key Namibia uranium mines
* Bannerman talks to Hanlong and potential partners (Adds details)
SYDNEY, July 11 (Reuters) - China’s Sichuan Hanlong Group has made a A$144 million ($154.9 million) “highly conditional” bid for Australia’s Bannerman Resources Ltd , eyeing the group’s uranium project in Namibia near key mines.
The bid at A$0.612 a share represents a 59 percent premium to Bannerman’s Friday close, but Bannerman said privately owned Sichuan Hanlong was trying to take advantage of recent share price weakness in the wake of Japan’s Fukushima nuclear crisis.
“The board of Bannerman believes that Hanlong recognises the strategic significance of controlling Bannerman’s large-scale and low technical risk Etango Uranium Project in Namibia,” the company said.
It has been trying to find a joint venture partner to help finance, develop and operate its 80 percent-owned Etango project, southwest of Rio Tinto’s Rossing uranium mine and west of Paladin Energy’s Langer-Heinrich mine.
Bannerman, being advised by Macquarie Capital and Cutfield Freeman & Co, said it will continue to talk with Hanlong though it will not grant it exclusivity, and will also continue discussions with others for a joint venture.
Hanlong’s bid comes two months after state-owned China Guangdong Nuclear Power (CGNPC) was forced to withdraw an offer for UK-listed Kalahari Minerals after UK regulators blocked it from cutting its bid after the Fukushima disaster.
Kalahari’s key asset is a 43 percent stake in Extract Resources , which owns the Husab uranium project in Namibia, potentially the second-largest uranium mine in the world.
Hanlong is already the biggest shareholder in Australia’s Sundance Resources , developing a $4.7 billion iron ore project in West Africa, and the majority shareholder in Moly Mines, developing a molybdenum and copper project in Western Australia. ($1 = 0.930 Australian Dollars) (Reporting by Narayanan Somasundaram and Sonali Paul; Editing by Balazs Koranyi)