A BHP company in Brazil will restart mining, five years after a dam collapsed and killed 19 people in the country’s biggest environmental disaster.

BHP on Thursday said the Samarco joint venture had started producing iron ore pellets at complexes in Minas Gerais and Espirito Santo after authorities approved the restart.

In 2015, a Samarco dam used to store mining waste collapsed and killed workers. It also sent roughly 40 million cubic metres of sludge into communities, the Rio Doce river and Atlantic Ocean.

Samarco is aiming to produce about 8 million tonnes of iron ore pellets each year.

BHP and Brazilian miner Vale have 50 per cent stakes in Samarco.

Last month, a UK judge struck out a 5 billion pound ($9 billion) English lawsuit against BHP by a 200,000-strong Brazilian claimant group seeking damages from the Fundao dam collapse.

BHP has its headquarters in London.

However the miners in 2018 settled a 20 billion reais ($5.05 billion) civil claim with local authorities to establish a clean-up fund.

Shares were up 1.18 per cent to $42.95 at 1323 AEDT.