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SYDNEY, April 5 (Reuters) - Iron ore shipments to China from Australia's Port Hedland, used by miners such as BHP Billiton , rose nearly 12 percent in March, data showed on Tuesday.
Exports to China from the port - the world's largest of its kind - reached 32.59 million tonnes in March, up from the 29.14 million tonnes in February, Pilbara Port authority figures showed.
Stronger Australian iron ore exports helped underpin an upturn in prices for the steelmaking raw material. Iron ore .IO62-CNI=SI ended January-March with a 24-percent gain after pushing above $50 a tonne.
It is still the top performing commodity this year despite falling 16 percent from last month's peak, but the wild swings have kept miners wary about the longevity of the price recovery.
BHP has set a production target of 237 million tonnes and Fortescue Metals Group 165 million tonnes in fiscal 2016, ending June 30. (Reporting by Colin Packham; Editing by Joseph Radford)