For nearly 100 years, the flotation plant metallurgist has often wondered what is happening 'beneath the froth'. To assist in unravelling this mystery, new technology has been developed as part of the Australian Mineral Industries Research Association (AMIRA) P9 project, to measure gas dispersion characteristics (such as gas hold-up, superficial gas velocity and bubble size) in industrial flotation cells. These measurements have been conducted in a large number of cells of different types and sizes by researchers from the Julius Kruttschnitt Mineral Research Centre (JKMRC) and JKTech. A large database has been developed and the contents of this database are described in this paper. Typical cell characterization measurements show a wide spread in values, even in the same cell types and sizes performing similar duties. In conventional flotation cells, the typical gas hold-up values range from 3% to 20%, bubble sizes range between I and 2 mm, and superficial gas velocity ranges from 1 to 2.5 cm/s. The ranges of cell characterization measurements given in this paper will enable plant personnel to compare their operation to other similar types of operations from around Australia and the rest of the world, giving opportunities for further improvement to flotation plant operations. (C) 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.