A cermet composite material is made by treating at an elevated temperature a mixture comprising a compound of iron and a compound of at least one other metal, together with an alloy or mixture of copper and a noble metal. The alloy or mixture preferably comprises particles having an interior portion containing more copper than noble metal and an exterior portion containing more noble metal than copper. The noble metal is preferably silver. The cermet composite material preferably includes alloy phase portions and a ceramic phase portion. At least part of the ceramic phase portion preferably has a spinel structure.